Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd Jan 2012 19:12 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia - but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality.
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Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

I think this guy is not against the core idea of profit as incentive. Economics can make anything look like profit by twisting it sufficiently to make it look like a number. He just advocates other form of profits than purely material and selfish ones.

Work psychologists have long shown that while the traditional "carrot and stick" incentive works for purely physical tasks, it fails for anything more intellectual. Creativity (as measured by the candle in the box experiment at least) is apparently stimulated by other incentives, such as freedom, cooperation with others, and the feeling that a work is benefiting something beyond just yourself.

Hard truth is, people who do the best work out there do not work for the money, but for other forms of profit. They only want enough money to earn a living, and it does not even have to come from their work. Give your employees a day a week to do whatever they want, as long as they show it to coworkers in the end, and you'll actually observe increased productivity in the end with no extra money out of your pocket. To the contrary, big salaries have been shown to reduce intellectual performance and sense of morals as compared to smaller ones.

I think there was a nice presentation on TED by Barry Schwarz or Dan Ariety about this, but I sadly can't find it back with this little information at hand. Been a year or so since I saw it, and I don't remember enough keywords.

Edited 2012-01-04 09:02 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

JoshuaS Member since:
2011-09-15

I'm sorry that I gave the idea that I dislike profit, which I really don't ( hence the "NOT a communist agitator" thingy ). Profit is at its heart completely ethical and disallowing people to make profit on their really hard work is just plainly cruel. But my point is that entrepreneurs should FIRST think about minimalising their effects on the environment, their workers, socially less prosperous individuals and on politics BEFORE thinking about maximizing their profits. If the entrepreneurs of the entertainment and software industries would seek ways of getting profit that does not relay for its continuity on the filtering of the Internet ( thus, an ethical way of generating profit, because they would not be taking away rights of citizens for only their well-being ), SOPA would simply implode, because there would be no unethical profit to protect. And in fact, if all corporations would think this way, so would all of our governments.

And Neolander does have a point: passion in the end matters more than money. Just think of all those hobbyist artists out there that spend hours painting, they don't get a penny but they're awesome, and that's all just because they love what they do. But you do have a point, they also have to pay their rent.

Edited 2012-01-04 10:47 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

TheIdiotThatIsMe Member since:
2006-06-17

I'm sorry that I gave the idea that I dislike profit, which I really don't ( hence the "NOT a communist agitator" thingy ). Profit is at its heart completely ethical and disallowing people to make profit on their really hard work is just plainly cruel. But my point is that entrepreneurs should FIRST think about minimalising their effects on the environment, their workers, socially less prosperous individuals and on politics BEFORE thinking about maximizing their profits. If the entrepreneurs of the entertainment and software industries would seek ways of getting profit that does not relay for its continuity on the filtering of the Internet ( thus, an ethical way of generating profit, because they would not be taking away rights of citizens for only their well-being ), SOPA would simply implode, because there would be no unethical profit to protect. And in fact, if all corporations would think this way, so would all of our governments.

And Neolander does have a point: passion in the end matters more than money. Just think of all those hobbyist artists out there that spend hours painting, they don't get a penny but they're awesome, and that's all just because they love what they do. But you do have a point, they also have to pay their rent.


I agree that it seems many of the best innovations do come from a garage or a lab where someone wants to just tinker! That's why I had mentioned Edison before, as I meant that innovation requires a backing force to produce it, market it, and distribute it. After all, Apple didn't always remain in the garage!

I think the problem isn't even so much entrepreneurs themselves, as much as I think it's the structure of a corporation. I have more respect for an entrepreneur than a shareholder; an entrepreneur will often stick through a declining profit period without sweating too much, as long as they're still in business and at least making a sufficient profit to pay the bills. Shareholders always seem to have a violent knee jerk reaction to even the slightest dip, and can cause rotating CEO's.

As odd as it may sound, I would never want to be a CEO for the same reason I would never want to be President of the United States (or really, any elected politician). Once you're in that position, you're never going to win. You can't be perfect, you're always going to have tons of people analyzing and tearing apart you're every move, and eventually you're kicked out anyways.

On top of all that, you're under pressure because you know not only do you have regular shareholders, but those who's retirement investments are partly locked up in your company's performance. Many companies offer stock options to their employees as a benefit for their retirement, and of course you have investment firms that buy in to your company with other people's retirement money. It's messy, and a lot of pressure.

I'd love to own a business someday, but the day I know longer controlled majority is the day I'd leave the company.

BTW, I apologize full heartedly if I appeared cross in my previous post: being online til almost 3am can do that!

Reply Parent Score: 1

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

JashuaS,

"Profit is at its heart completely ethical and disallowing people to make profit on their really hard work is just plainly cruel. But my point is that entrepreneurs should FIRST think about minimalising their effects on the environment, their workers, socially less prosperous individuals and on politics BEFORE thinking about maximizing their profits"

All things in moderation... the problem is when the corporate world circles around the twisted principal that profit is good at absolutely any expense, then humanity becomes consumed by it. We end up creating a world that shamelessly justifies the excesses of the few at the expense of the overall human condition.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Neolander,

"To the contrary, big salaries have been shown to reduce intellectual performance and sense of morals as compared to smaller ones."

Interesting, however I wonder if that's a mere correlation or if there's causation involved?

One the one hand it's possible that the creative types spend more energy being creative and less energy trying to get promoted and controlling others, and so are less likely to earn a big salary.

One the other hand, it's possible individuals, as they earn larger salaries, feel a less compelling drive than their poorer selves had.

Edited 2012-01-04 15:38 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

For big and small salaries, the experiment I heard about was based on a classical psychology test called the candle problem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Candle_Problem). Basically, they take a large group of persons and give each some amount of money to solve that problem. The intellectual performance is evaluated using criteria such as mean total time spent to solve the problem, and then statisticians look for correlation between salary and problem solving performance.

Now, as for interpretations, I'm sure that each school of modern psychology has its own ;) But it does seem to be a controlled enough experiment to offer valuable results as far as the intrinsic value of an incentive goes.

Edited 2012-01-04 15:54 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

More details on this experiment here : http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html

(I'm the first one tickled by his curious use of the "operating system" word ;) )

Edited 2012-01-04 16:11 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1