Monday, November 03, 2008

msb-0343 The law of Unintended Consequences

msb-0343 The law of Unintended Consequences

The Unintended Consequence


Disclaimer! Disclaimer! Disclaimer!

MSBPodcast is "not" any kind of a medical podcast.

It is by and for MSers.

Its purpose is to keep us entertained, to explain our symptoms, to remark on our discoveries, and to raise the general consciousness about our disease.

The path to illness is shadowy, murky and rough strewn.

The path to wellness is lit by the lamp of knowledge.


I have a quick and easy, painless and not too figgin' nosy customer survey that I really, really, really need you to go and fill out.

You can go to my podcast "page" [ ], click on the button on the left hand side of the page and anonymously answer a few simple questions.

I really need this.


Feedback comes first, so...

There's nothing to feedback at you except that you still seem to be there, downloading the shows and pushing me over "a hundred thousand downloads."

That's incredible, but its true.

You've put up with my lousy delivery, dubious musical tastes and moods over 100,000 times.

I hope to continue for a while longer.

---- "Mothers Uncle" by: "Ernie Payne"

Feed Forward comes next, so...

This is "your" segment.

Say "your" piece on this segment.

Share with other MSers whatever "you" want to share.

Drop us an email: "charles at"

---- "A Mothers Love" by: "Roscoe Chenier"

Feed Me comes third, so...

But I seem to be shedding a lot of weight instead.

It would help if the big media companies could figure out a way to make money off the internet. That would mean that I could too.

I suspect that its going to be a meritocracy, where content will be king and POV will count for everything.

Lets hope that the "unintended consequences" happen sooner than later.

---- "Sweet Mother Blues" by: "Mean Gene Kelton and The Die Hards"


The unintended consequences that I was referring to in the title of this post are the results of what gets displaced in the tub of commerce when big things like the internet, peak oil and the disintegrating financial markets serendipitously slosh lives and a way of life down the over flow.

Stick with me folks, this is going to be a three episode run plus a wrap-up episode, of heavy-duty thinking (interspersed with music of course,) that should take us through November.

---- "Mother Mary" by: "Bang Tango"


Lets begin with the internet.

The DOD experiment in building a scalable communication system capable of surviving nuclear devastation is at the true heart of the state we're in.

I'm not going to bore you with a history lesson. Its only 50 years old after all. That's not enough time to have a history; that's barely enough time to have a definition.

We're going to explore the the internet from its nature, from its structural and functional aspects.

Taking the tack of a typical five year old who simply accepts that things have always been the way they are, when you can get a fine year old to even admit to thinking, we're going to look at the way things are.

Unlike a typical five year old, we're also going to look around to see what the internet displaced, just a few examples, nothing exhaustive; don't worry.

The internet was initially started as an experiment in a scalable network structures. The idea was that if the phone systems went down, the military command and control structure should be able to communicate with its surviving appendages of the military/industrial complex. (Remember the "Eisenhower's 'Farewell Address' to the nation?" [go back to "msb-0205 Farewell Address {Eisenhower's, not Mine}" if you need to.] That was one of the more fateful speeches uttered by a president.)

That experiment was successful beyond its wildest dreams.

The cold war was getting underway and the phone system of the day was simply not up to the task because of its reliance on a "trunk and exchange" communication system.

That set the stage for what would become DARPA, the X.25 switching network, the internet, e-mail (which started as a hack so that machine A could talk to machine B and as a verification of the connection, so that the operator of machine A could send a mesage to the operator of machine B. (There were no such things as sysops and sysadmins, 50 years ago.)

Well lets look at what this displaced, what slopped over onto the bathroom floor shall we?

The entire internal structure of the telephone network was made entirely digital, packet switched and made essentially faster while it made sending a packet from any point to any point damn near free.

That's a systemic change and entirely "sub rosa".

While extremely expensive, it was paid for by me and thee and was accomplished on the regular equipment maintenance schedule. (It didn't occur to anyone to bother to charge separate fees for this until later [when we "paid for" "fiber to the home" for years, while the telcos delivered exactly and precisely 0 feet and 0 inches of it.])

In the meantime, the developments in electronics, funded by DARPA and NASA, (the DOD and its buddies who were sending "meat in a can" up in space in an effort to put something up there that they could drop on the Soviets,) led to miniaturization and the development by Robert Noyce, who was at Fairchild Semiconductor and Jack Kilby, who was at Texas Instruments, of the integrated circuit which solved the interconnection problem. (One of the greatest lacunae in the latter quarter of the 20th century is that this approach is not widely known and emulated.)

Then from intel, Motorola and a host of now smaller players came the 4004, the 8008, the 8080, the z80, the 8088, the 8086, the 80x86, the 6502, the 6800, the 680x0 series, the Pentium series, the PowerPC, the Lisp machine series, the Dandy series from Xerox, the POWER architecture from IBM etcetera, yahdah, yahdah, yahdah. They operated at kilohertz and now they're operating in gigahertz.

RAM went from being little magnetic doughnuts strung on wires to chips (made of silicon or, when you needed speed, germanium,) and measured by the Kb then by the Mb and now by the Gb.

At the same time, storage you could have on your desktop went from bits and bytes, to kilobytes, to megabytes, to gigabytes, to terabytes.

And since then, out have gone the telephone operator, the secreterial pool, the word processing pool (which has come and gone;) the system operator is another highly valued dinosaur, and just as extinct.

The very concept of a cutting room has been left on the cutting room floor of history.

I'm "not" complaining.

The lack of cut up pieces of negatives is a positive as far as I'm concerned.

The truth is that almost nobody has not been affected by the internet and of the information embodied therein.

But with the creation of the internet came the creation of the world wide web and, inevitably, the creation of the search engine, and of Google.

The printing press is becoming HTML, XML, and yesterday's New York Times, or the Mizzima News in Jadhavpur, Kolkata, is becoming distributed without a single tree having been felled.

A billion forms used in govermental business are all .PDFs, transmitted at the speed of light, stored reduntently in RAID storage systems and instantly accessible to anyone with a password or a (in)decent hack.

The grand telephony experiment that began as an attempt to survive the command and control communication problem that the DOD created for itself with the Manhattan project, has certainly evolved, (some might say metastacized, [specially the millions who have seen their way of life disappear.])

The feature creep that military acquisitions are all subject to spread like oil over waters and the heating up of the economy has turned it into a highly combustible vapor. (But we're doing those later...)

---- "Mother Natures Way" by: "Lumberjack Mafia"


The internet is the mother of all unintended consequences, but its own parents, oil dependency and war, and its twin children, "peak oil" and "the meltdown of the financial markets" are combining to change the world in in ways that are quite apocalyptic.

Think on this:
There are more people alive right now than have lived on the planet before, "ever."

More people, corporations and governments are on the internet today than existed and screwing wit the lives of more peple that have been screwed with before, "ever."

Even the poorest Egyptian fellah, Indian peon or Burmese peasant has a cell phone these days with call-waiting, voice mail, text messaging and internet access.
What has this done to the top down autocratic structure?

How can you maintain an autocracy or plutocracy in such an open environment?

Where everybody can see what the king is wearing, or "not" wearing...

Next episode, we'll get into some of the rest of what spilled onto the bathroom floor.

---- "A Mother's Love" by: "Ozark Insight"


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