Subject: Re: Mass. Bill to Block OpenDocument Format Standard
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 13:55:45 +0900

>>>>> "Marshall" == Marshall W Van Alstyne <marshall@MIT.EDU> writes:

    >> there anybody here who would be willing to delegate to
    >> Microsoft or the Chinese government without objection?

    Marshall> This is a nice point and actually one that deserves much
    Marshall> broader context than standards coordination failures.
    Marshall> In choosing spam filters, I don't want to delegate to
    Marshall> Microsoft, the Chinese gov't, or _any_ central
    Marshall> authority, what information I get to see.

It's not clear to me that such a broad context is warranted.  Spam
filter policy is purely personal preference, so coordination doesn't
enter at all.  I don't think anybody on this list would say they want
others to choose their spam filter policy.  Granted, they often want
others to (help) bear the costs of implementation and maintenance, and
are willing to sacrifice (some) control for that cost saving.  But
that's a different question.

Maybe a better example is crypto policy, which was justified on the
basis of alleged external effects (ie, national security).

IMO, intellectual "property" also fits into this setting.  There's a
coordination failure, namely, the (alleged) failure of appropriate
rewards and social contribution to match up in software development.
IP is a device to achieve coordination of rewards for _current_
investment in development with _future_ contribution (perhaps
appropriated by consumers yet unborn).

    Marshall> So, for standard setting, the question becomes, what's
    Marshall> the tradeoff between decentralization with increased
    Marshall> risk of coordination failure versus centralization with
    Marshall> decreased risk of coordination failure?

Yes, that's the one I have in mind, and it applies in the "broader
context" as well.

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