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Subject: came to mind when reading ecosystem section

Take a look around your house.  Take a look at what you are wearing.  Take a look out your window.  No matter where you are, from the biggest industrialized city to the smallest rural village, you are surrounded by economic activity and its results.  Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the planet is abuzz with humans designing, organizing, manufacturing, servicing, transporting, communicating, buying, and selling.


The complexity of this activity is mind-boggling.  Imagine a small rural town, the kind of quiet, simple place you might go to escape the hurly-burly of modern life.  Now imagine that the townspeople have made you their benevolent dictator, but in exchange you are responsible for making sure the town is fed, clothed, and sheltered each day.  No one will do anything without your say-so, and therefore each morning, you have to create a to-do list for organizing all the town’s economic activities.  You have to write down all the jobs that must get done, all the things that needs to get coordinated, and the timing and sequence of everything.  No detail is too small, whether it is making sure that Mrs. Wetherspoon’s flower shop gets her delivery of roses or that Mr. Nutley’s insurance claim for his lumbago is processed.  Even for a small town, it would be an impossibly long and complex list.  Now think about what a similar to-do list might look like for managing the global economy as a whole.  Think of the trillions of intricately coordinated decisions that must be made every minute of every day around the world to keep the global economy humming.  Yet, there is no one in charge of the global to-do list.  There is no benevolent dictator making sure that fish gets from a fisherman in Mozambique to a restaurant in Korea to provide lunch for a computer worker who makes parts for a PC that a fashion designer in Milan uses to design a suit for an interest-rate futures trader in Chicago.  Yet, extraordinarily, these sorts of things happen every day in a bottom-up, self-organized way.


The most startling empirical fact in economics is that there is an economy at all.  The second most startling empirical fact is that day in and day out, for the most part, it works.  It provides most of the world’s 6.4 billion people with employment, food, shelter, clothing, and products ranging from Hello Kitty handbags to medical lasers.  If one thinks of other highly complex human-made systems, such as the International Space Station, the DoD, or the Internet, it is clear that the global economy is orders of magnitude more complex than any other physical or social structure ever built by humankind.


The economy is a marvel of complexity.  Yet no one designed it and no one runs it.  There are, of course, CEOs, government officials, international organizations, investors, and others who attempt to manage their particular patch of it, but when one steps back and looks at the entirety of the $36.5 trillion global economy. It is clear that no one is really in charge.


   from The Origin of Wealth by Eric D. Beinhocker


Now think about the SOA ecosystem and what we mean by/require from governance.

BTW, there is the UN WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society, http://www.itu.int/wsis/) effort that started with the question of "who governs the Internet?"  Is the best answer: No one?



Ken Laskey

MITRE Corporation, M/S H305     phone:  703-983-7934

7515 Colshire Drive                        fax:        703-983-1379

McLean VA 22102-7508

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