Tragedy of the Commons Issues LO26957

From: Don Dwiggins (
Date: 07/07/01

Replying to LO26869 --

Richard Karash writes:
> 5. I began thinking more about TOC in nature. A short term story is
> "parasites infest the host. They do well until the host dies." The longer
> term story is "parasites kill the hosts, the host become extinct, the
> parasites become extinct, too." So, as a result, the REALLY successful
> parasites have already made themselves extinct; we don't see such species
> (or their hosts) in nature today. To me, this is a funny little twist. I
> don't know what to make of it.

Look at it slightly differently: what does "success" mean in the "longer
term story"? In fact, you've given a good example of the difference
between short-term success (consuming as much as possible, growing as fast
as possible) and longer-term success (making consumption and growth
sustainable as long as possible). Whether you're a community of parasites
in a host, a business organization in a marketplace, or a world-wide
community of humans "infesting" a planet, how you make the short/long term
distinction operational is critical to the outcomes you achieve.

With love for the long term,


Don Dwiggins Let us have one vision for the future - to make the next millenium the Proper Era of Homo Sapiens - those creatures who have wisdom (not technology) in common. Technology is but merely one of the fruits of wisdom. -- At de Lange, 1999

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