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Top Down Or Bottom Up“In the industries these companies are in, you have entrenched companies that wake up every day trying to put them out of business,” Messina says. “The existing rules and regulations were not built for disruptive technology, and part of America’s success has been allowing disruptive technology to soar.”The Many Hats Of Jim Messina, Bloomberg Businessweek, Mar 23, 2015.

Contributing to open source, Wikipedia, and free online education I see as similar to taxes.  With government, we give of our money so that everyone can get something we commonly need, such as streets, fire protection and the like.  When I enter or update a Wikipedia article, I’m giving of my time directly instead of giving of my income to a third party to act for me.  I like this taxation through personal choice and effort rather than only being done through a government agency that takes our income and decides what it should be used for.

Giving back by volunteering or contributing to the common good by submitting, for example, a new update to an open source program is really all the same things.  We are evolving from it all has to go through a government or established business to a more open system where we can all contribute as a community as we are called and capable.

It harkens back to if everything good can only be done by top down planned and directed activities or instead if we can have a pretty good (better than now) situation by individual efforts based upon enlightened self interest (business) or enlightened selfless interest (love to help and contribute).

In an inexact design, no attempt is made to correct for some inaccuracies; no attempt is made to ensure absolute reliability as von Neumann recommended.  The designs are appropriate in applications such as video, where an incorrect pixel here or there is unnoticed or can be tolerated; in audio, where a slight distortion is acceptable … Palem and his colleagues tried out the ideas, which they also call “probabilistic computing,” first in CMOS.  … [C]ould be made 300% more energy efficient by reducing the probability of accuracy 1.3% from .988 to .975.  Inexact Design — Beyond Fault-Tolerance, Gary Anthes, Communications of the ACM April 2013.

We have a bias that everything has to be done in precise and perfect ways … which is humorous when we see how things, though planned this way, really work out.  Instead we embrace the variation and realize that in many scenarios the allowance of this variation makes things work much more efficiently.

“In other industries, we have seen that the real costs of free are absorbed by other parts of the market, with positive as well as negative effects.”  Are the Costs of ‘Free’ Too High in Online Education?  Michael A Cusumano, Communications of the ACM April 2013.

So I’m not sure the real costs are absorbed any more than taxes produce proportional benefits (i.e., we probably only get a fraction of our money’s worth compared to reasonable alternatives). Lowering the barrier for contributions and access, especially to knowledge and learning, is only a huge plus for the planet as a whole.  Just about all disruptive changes are of course first disruptive and cause challenges for many — especially those part of the status quo. But they can often leave everyone across the business (or planet) better off than when we started.  Unfortunately, we don’t always see the benefits except in honest hindsight.

What do you see as the best method for getting changes you need?  Does it assume that your boss or the government has to be the provider of your needs?

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