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What is distributed enterprise?

When most folks talk about “distributed” systems, they normally have computers or the Internet in mind.  Or maybe they have been exposed to “complex adaptive systems” theory or “chaos theory” and are thinking of natural ecosystems, quantum mechanics or some other arcane discipline.  There’s an enormous amount to learn from those kinds of systems, but…

I’m not talking about any of that.  Or, well, not entirely…

I’m talking about when people are trying to achieve an important goal together, and where each person and group of people insist on maintaining their own rights – and are willing to honor each other’s rights — to protect their autonomy, their liberty and anything else that is deeply important to them.  And even beyond that, they are willing to enter in concrete and binding agreements to work together in a way that meet these criteria.

I grew up in America, so I naturally see the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution as an example of this approach in the political realm.  Not that either are perfect — as the addition of many important amendments are clear to show — but they are remarkable, nonetheless.  Many cultures, and most religions, state these principles even more strongly, although the institutionalization of the principles and values almost always leave something to be desired.

What would it really mean to expand these values into every economic, social and ethical realm, and really make them true in the political realm as well?  It beggars the imagination…

But is that because what we cannot easily imagine is improbable?  Or is it just a failure of our imagination?

I’m sure it’s the latter.

Once we believe that something might be possible, human ingenuity can and will make it a reality.  Sometimes the consequences of human ingenuity have negative results, sometimes positive, sometimes mixed.  Well, actually, usually it’s mixed…

But if something makes economic sense and political sense and scientific sense and normative/ethical sense at the same time, then maybe, just maybe, we can bias the consequences toward the positive end of that spectrum.

This is the primary purpose of this blog.

I’m going to try to share:

  • The thinking of people who have had a great impact on my life and who have helped me imagine things that I had previously never thought possible,
  • How, when combined, that thinking creates a new realm of possibilities that intrigue both me and people who I deeply respect, and
  • Some of my own conclusions and opinions.  Of course, my personal opinions can’t help but bias my selection of the above for this blog.  You, the reader, must determine where grains of salt must be added…  So please read the originals, whenever possible.

And, please note that as this blog progresses that I never capitalize “distributed enterprise” even as I use it repeatedly.  It is meant to simply be descriptive — an important concept, perhaps, but never jargon.  We never capitalize “corporation” unless we’re talking about a particular instance of that form of organization, for example.  In time, I might conclude that another term is far better in communicating the principles and values that underlie it.  Or even more likely, there will be many, many terms that do a better job in specific instances.  There are already a boatload.  It’s just where I start.  And I reserve the right to learn from my own mistakes and other people’s insights.

So, for my first bit of opinion: never trust anything that is capitalized (in English).  Unless it’s a proper name, a proper place, or a concrete object or entity (e.g., the Constitution), someone is trying to sell you something.  Maybe it’s worth buying, maybe it’s not.  But capitalization is a cheap way of getting attention and credibility.  Be skeptical.

I’ll do my best not to fall into that particular trap.  Please comment if I fail to do that, and I will correct it.  Thanks.

Welcome to my journey…  And thanks again for joining me…

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