Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Emergent Uses of Technology

I love navel gazing. I try not to expose my readers to too much of it, but this post by Seth Schoen at EFF’s Deep Links captures the spirit I think about when talking about emergent chaos:

The Business Models working group‘s mission has been based on the premise that “no system can be properly developed without first imagining & documenting every conceivable present and future way that it could be used.”

By this standard, none of the most important technologies of the past century could have been “properly developed.” This way of thinking reminds us of the entertainment industry leader who said that the technology marketplace ought to be “polite” and “well-mannered” (with, we imagine, every technology introduced in its appropriate year, after elaborate cross-sectoral negotiation).

Here’s a contrary view: information technologies are valuable particularly because we never imagine & document all the ways they’re going to be used. People, often end-users, just keep on thinking of new ones. What a pesky, untidy process this is!

The people have decided that the Business Model working group will present the People’s representatives with a five year plan that will bring glory to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and support their television viewing habits in celebration of the glorious October revolution. Decadent victims of capitalism will cry out for superior Soviet technology.