Good Idea Badly Implemented

Patents are a good idea, but in the United States they are badly implemented, to the point where people begin to think that PatentsAreEvil.

Copyright is a good idea, but in the United States it is becoming badly implemented. It lasts too long, and the DigitalMillenniumCopyrightAct makes it illegal to even discuss specific ways of breaking through copy control mechanisms, except in abstract terms such as the preceding.

Capitalism is a good idea, but it has never been properly implemented. As is Socialism.

Actually, no. There is strong theory that Socialism is a bad idea which cannot have a good implementation. See

(There are assumptions in that article. Socialism can't work while there are scarcities in the world. Every indication is [given exponential population growth] that there will always be scarcities, of course, but scarcity is built into humans, not the universe itself. No scarcity means socialism would work... not that you'd need it.)

Both systems are systems to handle demand and supply of resources in the society.


Good side: Gives every individual a goal to earn money by providing service to others this gives rapid development because everyone is free to switch to a better service when it is available.

Bad side: Due to the network effect, money attracts money; this means that few people have lots of money and many have so little that they have problems buying the basic services like food, a place to sleep and health care.

Unfortunately, the basic economic assumptions (free market, competition) from which the benefits of capitalism are derived start to fail when wealth becomes too unevenly distributed... I guess that means that pure capitalism isn't a self-sustaining system.


Good side: Provide basic services for all.

Bad side: Take away the individual goals and the reason for development.

But there actually exists an economical system which combines the two systems - it is named LetSystems.

<Puts flame pants on...>

Both ideas claim that they have never been properly implemented and that the failures of partial implementations are due to the partial nature of the implementation, not to basic faults in the analysis underlying the idea.

{Extreme capitalism and extreme socialism won't work. (Extreme capitalism results in one big monopoly.) The real debate is about the mix ratio.}

Maybe it is inherent in certain ideas to do this; language wars seem to often do this, or something related. "Perl is all powerful", "No, I find perl too big and too obscure", "Well, you don't really understand it then..." -- AndyMorris

MicrosoftWindows is a good idea badly implemented. :-)

In the case of win32 prior to NT, many would argue it was a bad idea, badly implemented.
How do you tell whether an idea is badly implemented, or simply bad?

First you have to imagine what the idea would be like if it were implemented perfectly.

Then you have to ask whether this imaginary scenario is plausible. Do real things and people have exactly those natures that the imaginary scenario requires them to have?

That question, in turn, requires you to know the natures of the relevant kinds of things.

I can imagine a socialist world where people want for nothing, but I can also imagine an unaided steel beam floating in the air like a helium balloon.

Great. Imagination is one thing, but drawing a line from here to there is something entirely different, eh?
If I may, perhaps ideas just get old. Humans have a tremendous capacity to subvert constructive ideas into destructive practice. So the occasional clean sheet becomes necessary. Unfortunately, social policies tend to be highly polarized, leading to very serious oscillation in the revolution/counter-revolution mode, or stagnation if one church becomes total. An intelligent counterbalance would be desirable to smooth out the rate of variation without forcing stasis. Perhaps we need Alan Greenspan as Emperor of the World. --RichardHenderson.
...Alan Greenspan as Emperor of the World.

That would be a disaster.

...and if you believe that AlanGreenspan? does not operate under an ideological paradigm (Classical Economics), I have a monetary policy to sell you.
This whole discussion rests on a division between idea and implementation. Is that a useful way of thinking of things? At what point, exactly, do these ideas become real things? When we sit around and talk about them with friends? When we lobby our politicians to turn them into laws? When we call the police to enforce them? If you can't define the exact moment something becomes real, perhaps the distinction isn't as useful as we think.

I guess I'm saying that maybe TheImplementationIsTheIdea?. Which, if you bring it back to computer programming, maps exactly to TheSourceCodeIsTheDesign, doesn't it?

I'd put it this way: a good idea badly implemented is a good idea poorly understood.

Just for contrast, are there any examples of BadIdeaWellImplemented?

While patents & copyright are getting out of control in the US... While patents & copyright could be reigned back in to make them bearable... I'm not convinced that either are a good idea. Inventions still occur without patents. Literature is still written without copyright. Even with patents & copyright, the best inventions & literature are not motivated by money. Patents & copyright only encourage businesses to be constructed around acquiring rights cheaply from inventors & authors & then making a lot of money for people other than than the inventors/authors through threats of lawsuits rather than through invention, development, production, or any other real contribution. (Threats of lawsuits, BTW, that are often baseless even under the patent/copyright laws.)

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