Friday, August 21, 2009

On herding entrepreneurs and innovation

In July 2009, Michael Arrington (founder of TechCrunch and proclaimed undisputed king maker of Silicon Valley Internet startups) interviewed Gary Reback, antitrust lawyer. Within the text Google’s Looming Antitrust Issues, one found a line about the

recovery by major companies of the ability to dominate their markets and to herd entrepreneurs and innovation and to damage consumers.

Sounds like a reprise of George Scott in "The Formula." It's too bad no one made a major movie about Chester Carlson, and how "major companies" ignored one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century, the Xerox machine.

Flash forward to August 2009 and Reback is in the news as to Google. The WSJ story titled Tech's Bigs Put Google's Books Deal In Crosshairs begins:

Three technology heavyweights and some library associations are joining a coalition led by a prominent Silicon Valley lawyer to challenge Google Inc.'s settlement with authors and publishers.

Peter Brantley, a director at coalition co-founder Internet Archive said the group, whose members will be formally disclosed in the next couple of weeks, is being co-led by Gary Reback, a Silicon Valley lawyer involved in the Department of Justice's antitrust investigation against Microsoft Corp. last decade. Microsoft, Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have agreed to join the group.

Separately, a BBC report titled Tech giants unite against Google gives more detail AND has quotes of John Simpson>

** Of detail-->

Back in 2008, the search giant reached an agreement with publishers and authors to settle two lawsuits that charged the company with copyright infringement for the unauthorised scanning of books.
In that settlement, Google agreed to pay $125m (£76m) to create a Book Rights Registry, where authors and publishers could register works and receive compensation. Authors and publishers would get 70% from the sale of these books with Google keeping the remaining 30%.
Google would also be given the right to digitise orphan works. These are works whose rights-holders are unknown, and are believed to make up an estimated 50-70% of books published after 1923.

**Of Simpson-->

"We simply don't like the settlement in its current form," said Consumer Watchdog advocate John Simpson.
"There are serious questions about privacy and Google seems to be taking the view 'let us put this in place and we will do the right thing down the road'. That is simply not good enough."

In another embodiment, Simpson has discussed CIRM, and has watched as Proposition 71 mercilessly fleeces California taxpayers, pointing out details but missing the big picture that taxpayer-financed venture capitalism is a bad idea. Here, Simpson doesn't want to trust Google. As to stem cells, Simpson didn't trust WARF.


Is what Google doing as to Google Books, etc., a matter of herding entrepreneurs and innovation?

**to Californiastemcellreport on 23 August 2009-->

Analogies between what is currently going on at CIRM with themes from the novel Arrowsmith should be self-evident. On the subject of prizes (here, for the "lucky 8"), recall that, although Sinclair Lewis was awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Arrowsmith, he declined the prize and observed:

"I wish to acknowledge your choice of my novel Arrowsmith for the Pulitzer Prize. That prize I must refuse, and my refusal would be meaningless unless I explained the reasons.

All prizes, like all titles, are dangerous. The seekers for prizes tend to labor not for inherent excellence but for alien rewards; they tend to write this, or timorously to avoid writing that, in order to tickle the prejudices of a haphazard committee.

Talk of "paradigm-shifters" by CIRM should be measured in this context.

**Also, note the discussion of Van Zandt on Legal Rebels:

The legal profession often has a guild mindset, he posits: Members value perceived intelligence and craftsmanship. What the group sees as perfection is often rewarded by other guild members. But clients don’t always want something that is technically perfect, and they are often equally concerned with time and cost savings. Also, they value social skills as well as perceived, measurable intelligence.

“Guilds are always giving out awards and badges,” Van Zandt says, “and clients don’t really care about that sort of thing.”

IPBiz posits: maybe California taxpayers don't care about that sort of thing, either!


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