Subject: Re: How to run an FSB R&D lab (maybe)
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2002 02:27:25 -0800 (PST)

   Tom Lord:
   >> So I guess the right model is to pay people to hang around, have a
   >> budget for honorariums for lectures, buy stack privileges at some
   >> nearby campus libraries, encourage people to set up comfortable
   >> hacking nests, throw some good social events, patronize the local
   >> establishments of bleeding edge culture, hire a mix of people as if
   >> you were planning a really good party, then walk around a lot to keep
   >> up with what's going on and figure out where you need to send in the
   >> technology transfer troops.

   > Bernard's right; why should a company spend money doing this when 
   > universities are doing it for you? 

Because they aren't.  Remarkably, even with an undexperienced,
underskilled, underinformed population, remarkable things happen.
That shows that there's a pattern of social organization there that
works and has unique strengths.  Now what happens when we replay that
pattern and optimize for it, including people with more experience,
greater skill, and greater knowledge?

   > You'd have to hire a *lot* of people
   > to get the same sort of social dynamics you were discussing, 

Not really; not for the usual meaning of "*lot*".  You'd want to put
it in a geographic region with comperable stimulation though.

   > Where, as a great man once asked, is the ROI?

To borrow from Mr. McGuire ("The Graduate" 1967):

"I just want to say one word to you -- just one word.

"Are you listening?


"There's a great future in potentiation.  Think about it.  Will you
think about it?

"Shh!  Enough said.  That's a deal."

When goals are too complicated to plan for, like innovation or long
term corprote growth, focus instead on raising the probability of
their accidental occurence.  After all, isn't that the general
principle from which the success of open source processes can be
predicted?  (Oops, that was 43 words.)