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The Innovators' Ball

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the preach-it dept.

The Almighty Buck 282

Babylon Rocker writes "Latest Cringely: The Innovators' Ball: Why Business Isn't as Fun as it Used to be. 'Sharp business is cheating and not getting caught.'"

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Oh, for the love of... (4, Funny)

Mr. Darl McBride (704524) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884478)

'Sharp business is cheating and not getting caught.'

If I can beg a little impartiality from the Slashdot editors, must every story include a dig at me or my company?

Re:Oh, for the love of... (0, Insightful)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884505)

If I can beg a little impartiality from the Slashdot editors

You're new here, aren't you?

But seriously, folks, business has ALWAYS been about this. That's the way capitalism is set up... you cut out your competitors through any means possible.

Re:Oh, for the love of... (5, Insightful)

HardCase (14757) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884845)

But seriously, folks, business has ALWAYS been about this. That's the way capitalism is set up... you cut out your competitors through any means possible.


That's not capitalism. It's dirty business. And what Cringely calls "sharp business" isn't sharp business, it's sharp dealing. Sharp dealing, the way my grandfather used to use the term...as in, "He's a sharp dealer." It's not a nice thing to say about somebody.


Capitalism means that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door (grossly simplified, I know). It does not mean that it's open season on your competitors to do whatever you can to get them out of the market. What Cringely described in the first half of his article may not have been legal, but don't confuse it with capitalism. It was dirty business, nothing more, nothing less.


And usually I hold what Cringely says at arm's length, but his second to the last paragraph, the one about innovation is, at least to me, right on the mark. I almost can't stand the word anymore.


-h-

Re:Oh, for the love of... (1)

waynelorentz (662271) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884513)

Impartiality? People aren't even going to READ the article, let along give someone a fair shake.

Re:Oh, for the love of... (4, Funny)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884631)

Only as long as you're still alive.

Re:Oh, for the love of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884860)

Jeez dude, don't you have something better to do than read and post to Slashdot all day? Aren't there tasty babies to be eaten or something?

The Innovator's Blue Balls (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884485)

Those who innovate, masterbate

oral sex with my girlfriend (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884497)

Greetings, Slashdotters. What follows it the true story of my first sexual experience. Being a typical Slashdot nerd, I never had much luck with females. That all changed my Sophomore year in high school when I met an attractive nerd girl that actually took some interest in me. We dated on and off for a while, but by my Senior year of high school (back in 2000), we had a pretty serious relationship. And so it came to pass that in October of 2000, I had oral sex performed on me for the first time, by my seventeen year old girlfriend.

Now, of course, I had imagined what it would feel like, and I had watched a lot of porno and did a fair amount of masturbation, but the spectacular sensations of oral sex had really surprised me. As she sucked my cock for the first time, I was amazed by how much pleasure the warmth and the wetness gave me. Granted, she was inexperienced at this point and a little nervous, but things improved with time. One of the things that that I really enjoyed was, after sucking for a while, she'd stop for a bit and rub her face on my cock. The sensation of my already moist member rubbing against the smooth skin of her face was absolutely incredible.

Eventually, she became, and still is, quite the eager cocksucker. In fact, she has even swallowed a few times. The first time, we were lying on my bed watching a Twilight Zone marathon. Eventually, she must have gotten a little bored with that because she slipped under the covers and started rubbing her head in my lap, getting me aroused, which didn't take very long. She pulled out my cock, and began sucking vigorously while I watched Twilight Zone... truly a geek's paradise! Anyway, it didn't take long before I felt myself reaching climax, and at this point I reached down to pull her off of my cock, but much to my surprise she pushed my hand away and took my whole load in her mouth. She kept her mouth on my cock for a while, holding my hot load in her mouth, enjoying the role of a cocksucking slut.

An interesting thing about my girlfriend is that she enjoys sexual role-play, in a sense. She often asks me to force her to deep-throat my cock, and to slap her face a bit and tug on her hair. At first, I was a little surprised and even scared to do this, but after a while I found it rather enjoyable to feel so much control over my girlfriend. Besides, it's all play.

Anyway, our relationship is still going strong, as is the cocksucking... she can't seem to get enough of it! I am, however, a little disappointed that she refuses to let me penetrate her virgin cunt. This is mostly due to fear of pregnancy, though. She doesn't seem to trust condoms too much. I guess I can understand her paranoia about the risk, and I certainly don't want children either (and contrary to popular myth, anal sex is not an effective form of birth control), but I would really enjoy the feel of my cock inside her tight, moist little cunt. Maybe someday...

For Fuck sake! (-1, Troll)

twoslice (457793) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884551)

You posted to the wrong goddam website again! Once again, this is slashdot not iamafaggot.com!

Re:oral sex with my girlfriend (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884569)

Your ideas intrigue me and I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.

fart niggers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884501)

gay poopiez

What? (3, Insightful)

SargeZT (609463) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884516)

Yes, Microsoft is an innovator and I don't think that is good. I'd have to disagree that microsoft is an innovator. What has microsoft done? 1. Created the first OS? Far from it. Not much of an innovation. 2. Created the first GUI? Also not true, the Apple Lisa was the first true GUI. 3. Created easy PnP? Definitley not right, OS/2, Amiga, Linux, and a slew of other OS's had PnP support. And to be fair, Windows 95 wasn't really Plug'n'Play. Microsoft's innovations are limited to trying something someone else does, and hoping it works.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884532)

"You think I got rich by writing checks? Boys? Buy him out!!"

Re:What? (5, Informative)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884538)

RTFA, invent != innovate

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884548)

From the article, immediately before your excerpt:

Innovators have wiggle room. They can steal ideas, for example, and pawn them off as their own. That's the intersection of innovation and sharp business.

Hmmm, steal someone else's ideas and pawn them off as original. Sounds like Microsoft to me!

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884762)

It should better sound like OSS/FS to you.

...we removed the [IP infringing] code from 2.6 because it was 'ugly'..., Linus Torvalds

Re:What? (1)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884886)

"Hmmm, steal someone else's ideas and pawn them off as original. Sounds like Microsoft to me!"

If it's as simple as that, then how come the original didn't enjoy success? How did MS edge ahead?

Re:What? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884898)

Marketing.

Re:What? (0, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884554)

They innovated the F$#@@!!%!! out of a few decent LANs, hereabouts!

I like the new "feature" that prevents restoral of a downed system to new, bare hardware for recovery! That's innovating the $H1+ out of it!

How about having to have THE WHOLE OS up and running to restore from tape?
INNOVATION!

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

$0.02 (618911) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884557)

If you read the article you will see that the guy wrote that Microsoft did not INVENT any of these things. They were invented by others. That's why MSFT is not an INVENTOR but rather INNOVOVATOR and the author concluded it was not good.

Re:What? (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884558)

RTFA
In the same paragraph Cringley explains the difference between invention and innovation (in his context). Invention is coming up with a new idea or new way to use an existing idea, innovation is changing (sometims stealing) an idea for specialized purposes (ie profit).

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

nn5ks (245781) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884563)

Microsoft's innovations probably lie in the just-that-side-of-legal arena.
I feel it is possible their legal teams have innovated all over the place.

Re:What? (4, Informative)

adrianbaugh (696007) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884575)

I think you and Cringeley are making the same point. M$ has just repackaged and changed these ideas in a way they can profit from but which doesn't necessarily add much value. Cringeley is suggesting that had they created the first operating system it would have been an "invention", rather than an "innovation", which he regards as smaller and generally less worthwhile/reputable. Semantics, I know, but I think the two of you are coming from the same place on this one.

Re:What? (2, Interesting)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884874)

"I think you and Cringeley are making the same point. M$ has just repackaged and changed these ideas in a way they can profit from but which doesn't necessarily add much value."

If that were true, Windows 95 would have been long forgotten in 1996. Obviously there was some value there. Otherwise, we'd all be using Macs.

Re:What? (5, Funny)

jspoon (585173) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884685)

I'm not completely sure, but I think they created that stupid paperclip thingy in Word. At least I've never seen anyone else take credit for it.

Re: Innovation vs. Invention (3, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884695)

The way I see it, it all comes down to one question... How "absolute" is the statement?

When a person claims to have "invented" something, it's pretty clear cut. The statement says they came up with a new idea and put that idea into practice. I don't think it's very often that you find a claim of an invention that a large number of people feel "uncertain" about.

When Edison claimed he invented the phonograph or the light bulb, it wasn't a matter of personal opinion. It was fact. Those two devices simply weren't around before then.

Innovation is a matter of opinion. One person's "innovative new way of displaying menu options" in software is another person's "terrible GUI design that should never have been attempted".

Is Microsoft innovative? Perhaps so, and perhaps not. It all depends on which side of the proverbial fence you stand on. (If you're one of their programmers and you're watching you own ideas become reality in new software releases, you're probably on the side that says "Yep, we're innovating!") Are they inventive though? Certainly not! You don't have to look far to see how many of their products contain code purchased outright from others. Even the pinball game included with every copy of Windows since '98 was licensed from Maxis.

Really, I don't think many companies are "inventive" at all anymore - and that's one of our problems. These days, there's more interest in litigation than invention - because it has a higher probability of profit/success.

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884696)

It was the first company to put *all* of those in the same operating system. To be fair, Linux hasn't even got a GUI half as nice as Windows. Fair enough, the later redhats have good PnP, but earlier versions were a nightmare.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-linux (on the contrary). I just think we need to admit linux's shortcomings and do something about them, instead of defending the obvious flaws as happens so much. Otherwise, microsoft's market share won't be dented.

Re:What? (1)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884718)

" 1. Created the first OS? Far from it. Not much of an innovation. 2. Created the first GUI? Also not true, the Apple Lisa was the first true"

Microsoft has never made this claim. What they did do, though, was combine a GUI with off the shelf hardware and make an OS that a wider market of people can use. Sort of like what Apple did, only you didn't need to buy AppleTM hardware.

"Microsoft's innovations are limited to trying something someone else does, and hoping it works."

Close. Microsoft made it work, or at least made it work 'satisfactorally'. Windows 95 was painful to use in many ways, but it was still much much better than dos. You can't credit another OS with fulfilling that on PC hardware until Linux came along. Even now, it's still playing catch up to MS in certain respects.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884761)

"Yes, Microsoft is an innovator and I don't think that is good. I'd have to disagree that microsoft is an innovator. What has microsoft done? 1. Created the first OS? Far from it. Not much of an innovation. 2. Created the first GUI? Also not true, the Apple Lisa was the first true GUI. 3. Created easy PnP? Definitley not right, OS/2, Amiga, Linux, and a slew of other OS's had PnP support. And to be fair, Windows 95 wasn't really Plug'n'Play. Microsoft's innovations are limited to trying something someone else does, and hoping it works. "


As damning as this sounds, Microsoft's success totally eclipsed everybody else they 'stole' from. Either these companies have all had a nasty run of bad luck, or Microsoft put everything together into something the market wanted. Whatever your take is on it, the market wanted Microsoft provided. Learn to live with it.

Ah you missed the point innovation invention (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884786)


The point of the article was that innovation was a corporate metaphor for playing politics, cheating and stealing, and invention was just invention. He said that Microsoft was an innovator, not an inventor.

Re:What? (1)

Feyr (449684) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884849)

sorry, apple themselves stole the GUI thing from Xerox. i guess that's "innovation" too then

Re:What? (2, Informative)

qmrq (648586) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884854)

Also not true, the Apple Lisa was the first true GUI.


The first GUI was developed in 1979 at Xerox's Palo Alto lab, unless I'm mistaken.

Steve Jobs traded something like one million US$ for a tour of the labs where he first encountered the "Alto", a prototype machine with a graphical interface. This is what led to the Apple Lisa, which was released in 1983 or 1984, if memory serves.

MOD PARENT DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884889)

He didn't even read the article- He's got the whole idea wrong. Invention is not the same thing as innovation.
Wrong reference, too... The first system with a GUI was the Xerox Star, not the Apple Lisa.

Re:What? (1)

CrashPanic (704263) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884901)

RTFA! M$ *is* an innovator by the author's standards.
What he is arguing is that innovation is not the same as inventioned. That it is a hackneyed term used by orgs that no longer invent and must make it up by anticompetitive business practices and the stifling of true invention by others.

Very true (5, Insightful)

adrianbaugh (696007) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884530)

It's not just the few like Enron that get onto the front pages, it's all the other businesses that it never quite seems to be worth anyone's while to bust (but damn well should be!) There are several extremely obvious examples in IT (cough*MS*cough*SCO*cough), to the extent that reading /. or any of the techy press it's hard not to see most of the industry as riddled with corruption, and I'm sure the same is true in other areas of business.

The thing is, I bet there are a lot of cases where one or two bad guys not necessarily right at the top can turn a whole company crooked (or at least semi-crooked) just because everyone else is too apathetic - or frightened - to shop them.

Of course, when the crooks really are at the top then it really sucks.

Innovation vs. Invention (5, Insightful)

aacool (700143) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884533)

And how is it different from what we might have said before? I think the word they are replacing is "invention." Bill Shockley invented the transistor, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce invented the integrated circuit, Ted Hof invented the microprocessor. (Cringley's article) [pbs.org]

Most inventions were based on some innovation or the other - the IC was an innovative usage of the transistor, the microwave an innovative usage of UV, etc.

As Newton opined "If I have seen further, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants" I've created/invented software that I'm proud of and others might term innovation - what's so wrong with innovation anyway?

Re:Innovation vs. Invention (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884576)

what's so wrong with innovation anyway?

Inherintly nothing. It's just that innovating can mean stealing an idea, just slightly changing it, and selling it as your own. An example of good innovation: GNU/Linux. An example of bad innovation: Microsoft.

Re:Innovation vs. Invention (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884858)

"An example of good innovation: GNU/Linux. An example of bad innovation: Microsoft. "

You have it backwards. Karma whore attempt maybe? ;)

Microsoft was the good innovator. Windows 95, and all the hype that came with it, made the PC arena explode. Shortly after its release, the PC became a common household appliance. Microsoft is 'bad' for this? Down the road, maybe. Their monopoly is nasty stuff. However, the market rose them to that power.

Linux is a good innovator? Maybe down the road history will remember it that way. But right now,where is Linux innovating as opposed to flat out copying? What has Linux actually innovated in? I'm seriously asking, not trying to subtely say they haven't. I'm sure in the server space they get some credit. I'll grant them that. I could be completely wrong about my comments about Linux here, but if I am I'd like to be tactfully corrected.

It's fun to hate Microsoft and all. It makes you cool to bash them at every point. I understand that. But man, don't let that cloud your understanding of history.

No they weren't (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884621)

Innovation is the act of INTRODUCING something new, not creating something new. All thing are based on other things.

Re:No they weren't (1)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884792)

According to my Economics textbook, innovation was "successfully bringing a product to market."

I switched majors very soon after that.

Re:Innovation vs. Invention (4, Funny)

gnuadam (612852) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884648)

Microwaves don't use UV. They, uh, use microwaves. :)

Re:Innovation vs. Invention (4, Informative)

aacool (700143) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884690)

My mistake - in a rush, the microwaves fried my brain:)

Here's a good history of microwave ovens [gallawa.com]

Here's another article with info abt the electromagnetic spectrum [nasa.gov]

Re:Innovation vs. Invention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884776)

Yawn, boring. You could have shut up after the ":)"

Re:Innovation vs. Invention (3, Funny)

fasura (169795) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884651)

microwave an innovative usage of UV

Call yourself a geek. You don't even know how a microwave works. I bet you use WinXP and use StyleXP to make it look like Linux.

Re:Innovation vs. Invention (1)

LrdHlmt (560099) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884740)

The Article was making a good point about questionable or semi-legal business practices until he made that Invention(good)/Innovation(bad) argument, that had nothing to do with the central subject. Both words can be equally valid depending on the context. The IC is both an invention and and innovative usage of transistors.

Re:Innovation vs. Invention (3, Interesting)

HardCase (14757) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884883)

I believe that the point that he was trying to make was that the word "innovation" is becoming a rather tired and misused term. And I agree with that point. Microsoft doesn't "innovate". I don't think that they invent, either. In fact, I think that most companies that make a big deal about how they "innovate" really want to say that they invent cool and important things, but, in fact, really do neither.


At this point, I get cynical about any company that uses the word...it makes me wonder what they're hiding, even if they have nothing to hide.


-h-

Innovation != Invention (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884778)

However, when you look at it in the other direction, not all innovations are related to inventions, as an invention would be an object of some form or another, and well, software, for one, is not an object.

Now, something that's hardware, that uses software or firmware might qualify as an invention. But when we start getting to 'innovative business practices' or 'innovative billing techniques' or 'innovative ways to force your competitors out of business', there's no particular object, and hence no invention involved. [Now, that's not to say that your business process, billing technique, or whatever may depend on an invention, but it is not, in itself, an invention].

Britnney's innovative cheese pussy... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884539)

Just stick a diode in it.

MS "innovation" (4, Insightful)

doodleboy (263186) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884541)

I thought this bit was spot on...
But there is another issue here, one that is hardly ever mentioned and that's the coining of the term "innovation." This word, which was hardly used at all until two or three years ago, feels to me like a propaganda campaign and a successful one at that, dominating discussion in the computer industry. I think Microsoft did this intentionally, for they are the ones who seem to continually use the word. But what does it mean? And how is it different from what we might have said before? I think the word they are replacing is "invention." Bill Shockley invented the transistor, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce invented the integrated circuit, Ted Hof invented the microprocessor. Of course others claimed to have done those same three things, but the goal was always invention. Only now we innovate, which is deliberately vague but seems to stop somewhere short of invention. Innovators have wiggle room. They can steal ideas, for example, and pawn them off as their own. That's the intersection of innovation and sharp business.
Propaganda is the idea that saying the word makes it true, that it somehow undoes the corporate culture of law-breaking and dirty tricks. But it only works with the uninformed - people who understand the issues and the history know they're full of shit.

Re:MS "innovation" (4, Insightful)

DrCode (95839) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884586)

I felt the same way about 6 years ago when I started seeing the term "technology" associated with software, as in "Microsoft Technology" or "Wizard Technology".

Re:MS "innovation" (3, Interesting)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884806)

"They can steal ideas, for example, and pawn them off as their own."

Steal? Bit harsh, don't you think? An idea's only as good as its implementation. If the original idea needed to be tweaked to have a bigger appeal, then the general populous benefits from that.

I agree that credit should be given where credit is due. However, it's nowhere near as black and white as this article implies. The Newton was around long before Palm Pilot, yet Palm gets the credit for making it mass market. "It is inferior to the Newton!" the zealots cried. But the Palm Pilot had some distinguishing features. It was pocket-sized, it talked to your PC and got relevant info out of it, and it was direct and to the point.

Apple gets some credit for generating the idea, Palm gets the credit for taking it and making it useful. Innovative? I think so.

Re:MS "innovation" (2, Interesting)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884824)

Propaganda is the idea that saying the word [and repeating it] makes it true.
There is also the BIG LIE, which is so preposterous that it leaves your opponents speachless.

innovation. sounds impressive, but:
innovation n. Act of introducing something new or novel as in customs, rites, etc.
A different color of mouse-pad is innovative. Getting slashes backwards is innovative. Standing when you should be kneeling is innovative. The latest teenage fad is innovative.
There is no sense of improvement or invention or skill.

Nothing New (5, Insightful)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884543)

Sharp business is cheating and not getting caught.

No. Sharp business is 'cheating' while following the letter of the law. What he is describing is 'Sharp Criminal Conduct' which some business people and many politicians engage in. When the politicians engage in 'Sharp Criminal Conduct' they make it easier for those engaging in 'sharp business' to do really foul things without actually breaking any laws. It's a subtle, but important difference and worth remembering next time you vote.

Re:Nothing New (1)

Dorothy 86 (677356) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884624)

"cheating" yes, but as you say: it's following the law. Does anyone see a problem with this? I mean, how many loop holes are there? How is it that major corporations can weasle themselves our of lawsuits more often than not, because of a minor technicality? I'm no expert here by a long shot, but surely something can be done.

My worthless $.02

Nothing New-Arms race. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884715)

Well the whole thing is an arms race. There's one side saying "you can't do that". And the other side saying (silently) "yes I will, and you can't stop me". In the face of that all laws will have "loopholes", be it simply ignoring the "spirit" while following the letter. Or something more severe.

Our society lost this battle a long time ago, because we've stopped teaching right and wrong. And started teaching "what's in it for me?", and "what can I get away with?".

Re:Nothing New (0, Troll)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884691)

The more laws a country has, the more corrupt its government.

Paraphrase from Tacitus

Nothing New-Eroding societies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884728)

"The more laws a country has, the more corrupt its government."

How about: The more "explicit" laws there are, the less "implicit" laws there are. Think about it.

SQUIRTY GAY SHITS ALL OVER YOUR FACE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884545)

up the asssssss yes

decent (4, Funny)

randyest (589159) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884549)

Decent article, but regarding this part:

We've gone from following the rules to playing the odds.

And if we do follow the rules and don't play the odds, then we are figured to be suckers.

Speak for yourself. Some of us just keep doing the right thing as best we can, no matter what everyone else is doing. We usually come out better in the long run.

Re:decent (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884577)

You may come out fine, but as he said, you are figured to be a sucker.

Re:decent (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884637)

but you are stilled figured as a sucker.
there is a difference.

Re:decent (1)

RetiredMidn (441788) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884702)

We've gone from following the rules to playing the odds.

And if we do follow the rules and don't play the odds, then we are figured to be suckers.

Speak for yourself.

Well, maybe you've been able to avoid it, but I think it is an apt description of corporate America and, by the way, NASA.

Re:decent (1)

renehollan (138013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884738)

Some of us just keep doing the right thing as best we can, no matter what everyone else is doing. We usually come out better in the long run.

Either we come out ahead, or we wind up dead as the ultimate punishment for trying.

But, it is better to die a noble death in defense of liberty and justice than to prostitute one's morals before the tyrants of the day.

Eventualy some of us will come out ahead and perhaps they might remember our sacrifices for our common goal.

Re:decent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884838)

Ha! Sucker!

A bit too cynical... (3, Insightful)

shri (17709) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884597)

Read the article and started to wonder if Cringley was having a bad day. For every business he's mentioned, there are several who are doing well and doing it cleanly.

Companies like Google, Berthshire Hathaway and others come to mind as good counter examples of what Cringley calls "gone from following the rules to playing the odds".

A sligh positive note in that article would have helped. Oh well .. just an observation.

Re:A bit too cynical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884640)

Berkshire Hathaway isn't a good example. In particular, they have not taken responsibility for the loses they suffered in the insurance industry, prefering that you and I take the responsibility via a tax handout.

Re:A bit too cynical... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884747)

please explain how you know those companies don't practice 'Sharp Business'? Or is it since they produce something you like, therefore there all 'above board'

Re:A bit too cynical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884821)

Its a news worthly scale. Stories have a better chance in the market if they are sensational, negative, contovseratlasdflsahjdfklasdnfc

oh fuck it I can't be bothered typing

News flash! (1, Redundant)

EdgeShadow (665410) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884599)

This just in... our sources have just informed us that there are business executives out there who lie, cheat, and even steal! I'll take this oppurtunity to warn all decent folk out there to think twice when making dealings with such evil, evil men.

Seriously though, since when is the common practice of "savvy businessmen" screwing trusting people out of money news?

Business Morality (oxymoron?) (5, Interesting)

imhotep1 (674470) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884601)

My father is a very moral man, who taught me early on that winning isn't the point in life. In fact, if "winning" is your only goal, you will never win.

He would tell me stories, like the time he quit his high school water polo team after the coach encouraged his team to elbow the opposing team whenever the ref looked away.

My father's tech company was stolen away from him in the same way as in this artical. He and several friends created a start up, and within a few years, all were shut out of the company, and the investors walked away with the prefered stock.

Companies like Microsoft practice an odd form of amorality and defend it as good business practice. It might be sound business practice, but there is nothing good about it.

Admittedly, in any capitalist society there is a dog-eat-dog quality to business, but is there really the need to specifically crush upstart companies, play fast and loose with public standards to kill competition, and other such underhanded techniques that are only good for your company, but bad for everyone else.

In the end, I think most people who were raised with a firm and grounded set of morals appriciate that there is such a thing as good business practices. I try my best to stay abrest of those companies that follow them and only give them my business. It's hard sometimes, but in the end, it might be the only way some businesses can be made to behave.

Re:Business Morality (oxymoron?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884701)

Not to be a dick, but it sounds like your dad was in the "sucker" category.

What did his morals get him? Kicked lonely friday nights in H.S. (as opposed to playing water polo). And an empty feeling as his company waltzed off without him...

Re:Business Morality (oxymoron?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884801)

...an empty feeling as he posted AC

...
..
.

Just like me!

Re:Business Morality (oxymoron?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884830)

Not to be a dick

Sorry, but YOU FAILED IT!

innovation (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884611)

innovation ( P ) Pronunciation Key (n-vshn)
n.

1. The act of introducing something new.
2. Something newly introduced.

Re:innovation (5, Interesting)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884643)

What's happened is that the implementor (Joe Shmoe, lets say) has been confused with the inventor.

Few people invent radically new devices. As the cliche goes, the cell phone was invented in 1954, and yet putting a camera on a cellphone, two existing inventions together is called 'innovation'. Yeah, a cell phone with a camera was something new, but so was the first zipper painted blue! Lots of things are 'new', but only because they are simply the result of the millions of ways of combining all the technology we have. Something *truely* new, not just a recombination of things that have already existed, or an existing technology in a different shape, size, color, etc, comes along far less often than the patent office records or brochure claims of corperations will have you believe.

Re:innovation (1)

aacool (700143) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884645)

Innovation n

1: a new device or process created by study and experimentation [syn: invention]

2: the creation of something in the mind [syn: invention, excogitation, conception, design]

Source: WordNet (R) 1.6, (C) 1997 Princeton University

Exactly (4, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884620)

My term is 'gaming the system'. When you exploit loopholes and bend rules, you defeat the purpose and intent of a system, thus ensuring that even if you believe the system in theory should work as intended, it won't.

Some people assume if you end up with the desired goal of the system (wealth), than it has served its purpose. In reality, the system was devised not so an individual can become rich, but rather so we have a set of rules in which to facilitate improving our standard of living without resorting to social friction and unfair (subjective, I realize) treatment of others.

All the market tactics, advertising ploys, and accounting/legalese rule bendings seem to weaken the role of merit in capitalism. And I know what constitutes 'merit' is subjective, but I'd rather not give merit to those creative and smart enough to figure out how to bend rules in their favour without being caught.

Re:Exactly (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884655)

My term is 'gaming the system'. When you exploit loopholes and bend rules, you defeat the purpose and intent of a system, thus ensuring that even if you believe the system in theory should work as intended, it won't.

Sounds like you've describe the slashdot moderation system.

Sharp Business and Wealth Building (1)

poopie (35416) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884719)

...."And the result is that we all become cynics."

Welcome to the harsh world of reality. Do or Die.

--

How do you build wealth?

By making more money than you spend?

How do you do that?

By only spending what you are absolutely required to spend and not a dollar more.

How do you do better than that?

By finding ways to spend less than your you are required to spend

Business is rough, play hard (5, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884659)

I feel bad for the entrepreneur who got screwed in Cringely's story, but you have to always doubt and distrust ANYBODY that is sent your way by your investors. They will almost surely have a conflict of interest. The trick described (emptying a board seat and keeping it empty to enable the lead investor(s) to rule the board without challenge), or just structuring the board so that common-shareholders-be-damned aren't uncommon techniques that venture capitalists use. And all those "outside" managers they want to bring in - here's a hint, these people are often people they go to church with, or whose kids go to daycamp with their kids, or who are on the town council with them.... in short, they are going to scratch each other's backs whenever possible.


My recommendation is to raise money from people who already know or trust to some degree whenever possible, and ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS, worry about control. Control is often times far more important than who has how many shares. Shares can very often end up worthless at the end of life of a business venture, if it is liquidated, or M&Aed away, or basically has any end-game other than an IPO, unless your shares are all on a level basis (this is a nice thing about flat LLC memberships and S Corporations as business entities, though that's certainly not necessary).


Just remember that you have to make sure that all your contracts and legal structure reinforce your power and control, and it's often better to give up some extra equity in exchange for this. Be careful who you trust. And never make yourself unnecessary before you have your exit strategy well on its way to execution.

not really new (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884665)

In the US at least, shady inventors have a long tradition dating back to Thomas Edison, whose patent trickery and idea-stealing is somewhat legendary (he even invented the electric chair to make the competing A/C current look dangerous).

The thrill is gone (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884682)

Business isn't fun. Games aren't fun. Even Michael Jackson isn't fun anymore. Does anyone remember laughter?

obligatory mockery (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884707)

Now this is a bit ridiculous. Business is a game where the winners turn a profit- which is to say, sell things for more than they are "worth," where "worth" is what these things actually cost to produce. Thus, business is not nice and never has been- hence Jesus with the money-changers, prohibition against usury, Medieval Jewish banking, anti-semitism, Shakespeare, Dickens, Marx, Steinbeck... the list goes on, defining massive areas of history, especially in the Christian world.

Cringely wants no part of that sleaze. He's a geek and a PBS writer instead.

For a while, it looked like people could be geeky and ethical while still turning a profit. This was a temporary illusion caused by a populace that had a religious awe of geeks, caused mostly by FUD, and was willing to overpay even those geeks who didn't really turn the screws. The middle managers who forked over millions of dollars (which THEY had scammed from others) for their own electronic replacements were not making headlines during the late nineties, but there were more of them than there were techie nouveau riche.

So. Every geek, and indeed every human, must ask him or herself whether to try to profit by bringing misfortune to others, or whether to embrace poverty, in the unlikely hopes that that will make the world a better place. I don't have an answer to that for myself, let alone for everybody, but claiming that the sky is falling just because the tech bubble burst months ago is worthy only of ridicule. It is good for anyone, even slashdotters, to be reminded of these Big Questions; but all in all, I think Cringely and most of the rest of this crowd are in way over their heads.

Will Warner geocities.com/wtw0308

Re:obligatory mockery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884810)

addendum:
Reality is what you can get away with.
Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, humans gotta take whatever they can grab.
It is Friday night, so it doesn't surprise me that generalized geek whining is what hits Slashdot. Now I just need to find something better to do...

WW

Re:obligatory mockery (4, Insightful)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884812)

Geeks were easily corruptible, as with most people in this era of instant gratification.

I would reccommend reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot [amazon.com] for some enlightenment on how the world treats those who act morally and conscientiously in regards to life and business.

Re:obligatory mockery (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884816)

"Every geek, and indeed every human, must ask him or herself whether to try to profit by bringing misfortune to others..."

Um...

Why is harming others necessary for profit?

Re:obligatory mockery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884841)

Because if you're fair to others, you sell stuff for what it costs to make, plus enough extra to keep yourself alive. No profit.

Re:obligatory mockery (2, Insightful)

LrdHlmt (560099) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884866)

profit by bringing misfortune to others, or whether to embrace poverty This is a white and black simplistic aproach. I see the point you are trying to make though. There's nothing wrong with making a profit, as long as your are not lying, cheating or stealing. Anyone can make a decent buck without crushing people or companies. Now, getting greedy is another thing (a capital sin in christian terms). when does anyone have enough money?. As a matter of fact one good invention or innovation can bring fortune to many besides the inventor him/herself.

kdict on "innovate" (1, Redundant)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884717)

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
Innovate \In"no*vate\, v. i.
  • To introduce novelties or changes; -- sometimes with in or on. --Bacon.

  • Every man,therefore,is not fit to innovate. --Dryden.
WordNet (r) 1.7 [wn]
innovate
  • v : bring something new to an environment; "A new word processor was introduced" [syn: introduce]

So, Microsoft is proud of introducing changes (often created by others?), as opposed to inventing anything of their own.
Now, that makes total sense

Sick of Cringely (1, Offtopic)

caffeineHacker (689198) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884779)

Does anyone else get tired of having articles about him posted to Slashdot. Is he even anyone? Tried to google, and it sounds like he's just a self-absorbed journalist. Is their a damned I, "Cringely" checkbutton I can select so I never have to hear his damned name again. He's an ass who thinks he has all the answers, why does /. send more traffic to his narcistic articles?

Delete the filth and the smut from this site NOW! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884794)

I realize this is offtopic, or flamebait, or troll or what have you but I really must speak out on the amount of absolute filth that gets posted to this site by the "trolls." It's disgusting and has no place whatsoever here. It's not the place for sex stories, discussions about the homosexual editors of this site, or beastiality. The moderation is not enough. I demand that the filthy posts themselves be deleted. It is offensive and has no bearing whatsoever on a productive discussion of the topic at hand.

Rant over...

Re:Delete the filth and the smut from this site NO (1)

caffeineHacker (689198) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884839)

Yes but it wouldn't be very good either if we just started deleting posts. Wouldn't you be pissed if one of your replies was deleted, simply because the moderator didn't like it? We have moderation, and everyone can moderate so if the article is a flame/troll it goes into the happy little -1 status in a couple of minutes and rarely seen again. I do agree they don't belong and I would like them gone too, but it would defeat the purpose of an open forum if you couldn't post what you want.

Re:Delete the filth and the smut from this site NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884859)

Mod parent troll

Fundamental flaw in collective decision making (2, Informative)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884807)

I maybe stretching things, but I think part of the problem is with collective decision making itself. We tend to think that if everything is done democratically, we'll get the best results. So when a company is divided up amoung shareholders, as long as they get to vote, or have representatives to vote for them, we expect things to work out fine.

Unfortunately, it's been proven, under a few resonable assumptions, that there exists no fair voting system. This was proven by the economist Kenneth Arrow who won the Nobel prize for his work. A short discussion is here. [vill.edu]

So what ever system of democratic decision-making you might create, it has fundamental weaknesses that are exploitable by the unscrupulous.

The only way to stay out of trouble is to find other ways of raising capital.

There's something missing from Cringley's tale (2, Interesting)

ctwxman (589366) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884827)

Cringley builds the foundation of his entire article on a person who got screwed and was left with nothing. Yet, there is no attribution. It would seem to me this is a person who would want light shone on his plight and the evil doers who did him in.
By not providing attribution, Cringley deprives us of getting both sides of the story. That's why many news organizations frown on anonymous sources except when absolutely necessary.
I realized a long time ago that no one I ever knew who was involved in a car accident was at fault. Like here, I only got one side of the story.
Have I made my point?

It surprises me not at all... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6884829)

that the man who had his company stolen from him could find no lawyers willing to take his case. And isn't this a HUGE part of the problem. Lawyers themselves re no longer interested in law, only in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Cases that have no clear profit, regardless of legality (or illegality, for that matter) cannot attract a lawyer anymore.

What this country needs is less laws/lawyers and a helluva lot more justice!

It isn't fun (5, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884876)

Business isn't fun for inventors and creative people because it is impossible for a creative person to bring an idea to production within a bureaucracy.

This is because we allow office politics to completely absorb every single moment of every single day in "corporate" businesses.

There is absolutely no concern for a quality product or a truthful discussion of the right and wrong ways to build something in the cubicles. It's who can fuck who over so they can keep their job while simultaneously destroying someone else's career. It's who can point out the most failures. It's who can foster the most suspicion and doubt about their colleagues' competency that succeeds in the never-ending schedule of meetings.

And nobody ever talks about it. Nobody ever squarely points out the enormous amount of time and money that is wasted, man-hour to man-hour, by people building spectacular layers of redundancy to cover every possible and several impossible failure possibilities while attempting to answer the unanswerable questions posed by middle management.

These are the same people by the way, who insist on everyone being a "team player." Of course, that only applies when these people are the quarterback, not the left tackle.

Want to know where the largest source of waste in business is today? This is it: office politics. People working against each other instead of working as part of a team which actively encourages people to grow and succeed. It's a disgrace and it shouldn't be allowed to continue.

Coup de Jarnac (3, Interesting)

pgpckt (312866) | more than 11 years ago | (#6884887)

"But sharp business is something different, it is playing the game of business so close to the boundary of good faith and legality that it is hard to tell where that boundary is or if there even is such a boundary. "

This is also sometimes refered to as a Coup de Jarnac. Jarnac won a dual against Francois de Vivonne in 1547. Jarnac got to pick the weapon, and instead of one, he picked several fo that Francois wouldn't know which one. Jarnac also knew that Francois was famous for a particular move when he fought that would expose his hamstring. So, Jarnac just played the dual to a draw until Francois exposed himself, and then he cut his hamstrings and Francois bled to death.

While technically within the rules, it was considered dirty, and hense Coup de Jarnac is a term that can be used to describe this.

So ends your history lesson for today.
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