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Off to the Slaughter House!

Tuesday, March 14, 1995 by Dave Winer.

As I've said before, I love hanging out with Mark Stahlman, New Media Associates, stahlman@radiomail.net. We always have fun. At Esther's conference, we shared a hugely expensive bottle of wine while I flirted with a gorgeous cocktail waitress with a great smile, while Mark spewed various theories that reminded me of the pontifications of my grandfather.

My grandfather was a wise man, even if towards the end he spewed more than he reasoned. He loved me, and had a passion for living and a basic respect for the truth. He was a teacher. He was also a very angry man, but I suppose that's understandable, given that he was a refugee at least twice in his life.

Anyway, Mark is younger than my grandpa. He may be a refugee, I don't know. But he thinks and he puts things together. He has an active and curious mind. The more I talked with him in Phoenix, the more I believed he had pieced together the real story of what's going on as our toothless industry grows new teeth, and prepares to fight another fight, this time with the US government.

I asked Mark to write a DaveNet essay about this stuff, and here it is...


We're being led off to the slaughter house! These guys want our hides and we're sitting around politely sipping tea and flipping business cards. The "largest legal generation of wealth in the 20th Century" is under attack by some guys who certainly didn't get theirs legally. I had this spooky feeling after Biondi spoke at Agenda that these guys would eat our lunch, but now after Forum, spooky is turning into freaky.

What started out as a goofy idea that all the anti-trust seesawing around Microsoft might be something more than meets the eye has blown up bigtime. It all started with that cute little quote about "Microsoft knows how to compete but do they know how to behave?" Behave! Hey, where's the Skinner Box?

It's well known that behavior can be modified if you change someone's environment -- particularly, if it's what they call an "aversive environment." It also helps to be able to hard-cop/soft-cop someone, switching the rules to soften them up. Keep them guessing. Better yet, have no rules -- which is what this case looks more and more like. Maybe it's time to lighten up and read something funny like good-old Kafka, eh?

See, the problem is that Bill (don't you just love him?) isn't one of them. He's one of us. Yeah, I was a software entreprenuer once too. I first met Bill around 1977 when I negotiated a contract with him for uSoft Basic for a machine I was building for Citibank. Man, was that boy a nerd back then. Hard-core. BD. Before DOS.

Now, he's the richest man in America and he doesn't even have a Senator in his pocket. Why, he probably doesn't even have a favorite charity. And, he built his house *underground* too. What's he hiding down there?

That's not good, you know. We can't have independent, undeclared, unneutralized, underground really rich guys running around. Especially if they "lead" an industry that is independent, undeclared and unneutralized like PCs. I'm beginning to think that Gates has got the big boys nervous.

And, if Microsoft ever thinks about "caving" ("giving in", "capitulating", "throwing them a bone"), my guess is that it will hurt their franchise. Not because the new rules will tie them up, but because they will have kissed the RING. Somehow, Apple isn't the rebel machine anymore. Could it be Microsoft now?

And, that's not all. Like Bob Kavner said at PC Forum, "Hollywood is two worlds, the creative and the production." Only, he didn't say but knew he should've said "...and the Mafia." Entertainment is a "tightly controlled" business everywhere in the world. Culture *is* "social control. Everyone knows LA is a gang town -- it's just that some wear Armani colors and some wear Timberland.

Dave, what's happening to our innocence? Is this the end? (Yeah, I also saw the Doors live at the Cheetah in LA in 1967 -- way BD.)

Mark Stahlman



Thanks Mark.

Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."