Web of the Future -Final Exam LO23237

captain complexity (thecaptain@cityplex.demon.co.uk)
Mon, 15 Nov 1999 16:41:14 +0000

Replying to LO23215 --

Liz Cantrell said or quoted:

> A number of friends to whom I showed it suggested that it
> might be a good Final Exam for people considering passing thousands of new
> laws and regulations, to make sure that the Web is "safe", and to
> eliminate the "Wild West nature" of the Web. If you can answer all these
> questions, you probably know why thousands of new laws are not the right
> way to make the Web "safe".

OK, here's a response; and yes I 'probably know why thousands of new laws
are not the right way to make the Web "safe"'.

Thanks for this, Liz. very thought provoking posting.

it scares me when on a daily basis I see people trying to 'make safe'.

Below I've picked out some, for me, key phrases:

> This is illegal in the nation where you happen to be
> a citizen. You want to do it anyway.
> it is a $100,000
> offense to send such material electronically to a minor. You want to send
> it anyway--it is a very funny joke.

>You want to make sure people know it isn't really you.

>You want to make sure anyone going to their site finds out your product
>is better.

> You want justice.

> You want to ensure that your brand is never used like this again.
> The time has come to solve your problem in the most fundamental
> sense, and save the life of your daughter.

Oh, doesn't this stuff rouse strong emotions?

what I'm hearing here is:

1. wants. You want this, you want that...
2. make sure. you want to make sure
3. save. you want to save the life of your daughter

problem: the world is complex unpredictable and uncontrollable. You want,
but you can't have. You want a baby in 3 months time, Mr Gates and you'll
give me all your money? Sorry but you can't have, because babies take 9
months. You want to make sure that your baby is safe forever, Mr Gates?
sorry but you can't. Even if you raise her in a space bubble away from
any germs she may still die if a terrorist gets to her.

You want to ensure? you can't. You want to save? you can't.

what might just kill us all, and remember what killed a lot of people in
Korea was the US attempting to make the world safer; it didn't work, but
the people are still dead- what might just kill us all, is the notion that
you can ensure and that it's ok to want, regardless of need.

read Ulrich Beck's book 'Risk Society'. In past times, when a baby died,
it had to be accepted as an act of God, or just one of those things. When
you lost some of your crop to animals and insects it was just one of those
things. Now we want to sue someone for the death of our child, we want to
ensure it never happens again. We want to eliminate pests, but then we
have to mourn the loss of the songbirds that ate those pests. We want to
eliminate risk.

Well we can't.

We have to find a way to live in our risk filled world.

Our risk filled world is becoming more so, in part as the unintended
consequences of our attempts to reduce risk [car accidents involving
'safer' vehicles driven therefore at higher speeds, is one example]

There is much in the world that is intolerable and yet we must tolerate
most of it, because most of it we can do nothing about, or go mad.

Phew. Well you did ask, Liz.

Happy trails,

the Captain

PS: all this reminds me of a wonderful little short story by Philip K
Dick, it's quite an early one. It has the feel of a Zen teaching story
for me. The original is a few pages long, and sets up the situation as

There is a man in a house that is being invaded by all manner of insect.
In minutes they will break in and consume everything inside. With him are
spiders, who attempting to resist the onslaught of the insects. The
spiders explain that they think they can prevail, that they can defeat the
insects. 'Then we're saved!' shouts the man, allowing hope to rise up
inside him. 'Oh, I'm sorry,' a patient spider explains, 'I didn't mean to
mislead you. All of the organisms in this dwelling will die in a few
moments. I meant that your species and our species will survive.'

So it goes.

[as another great american writer says]


"captain complexity" <thecaptain@cityplex.demon.co.uk>

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