Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Future of Industrial Man, Chapter 7: Section 3

Here Drucker is revisiting the issue of majority rule and rights of minorities. It does not contain a lot of material that is particularly new, though it does remind me that the term “common sense” is not as friendly and simple as it seems to be. We take it to mean “ordinary wisdom”, “understanding the basic facts of the world.” Of course, it you look at the words with even a modicum of attention, you note that is means what it says. It refers to the sensibility that is held in common. The ideas about action and activity on which the majority agree.

Drucker moves from taking about the problems with majority rule with the issue of identifying the best government. “All out theoretical and practical discussion of politics suffers from the fact that arguments about freedom are supported or opposed by arguments about the best government and vice versa.” He is clearly concerned with freedom and acknowledges that a free government may not always be best by all standards.

To connect this to the computing world, I have to return to when I was first working as a programmer for Burroughs Corporation. It was a big company but it was far smaller than IBM. Furthermore, more software was available for the large IBM mainframes. Hence, at many customer sites, you found at least one manager who argued that they needed to dispose of the Burroughs machines and get IBM equipment because everyone had them.

There was a logic to this reasoning. Renting IBM equipment might reduce the problems with your site, give you access to more software and certainly put you in touch with a larger number of programmers training on your machines. The Burroughs machines were far more flexible and easier to use. But there were fewer of them And they weren’t IBM. And so they are gone.

Happy April Fools by the way

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