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Of Pencils & Airplanes [Repost From AeroElectric-List]...

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Matt Dralle
Site Admin

Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 21271
Location: Livermore CA USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:40 am    Post subject: Of Pencils & Airplanes [Repost From AeroElectric-List]... Reply with quote

[Dear Listers, last week, Bob Nuckolls of the AeroElectric fame, posted a very nice message discussing the Lists and Forums at Matronics. It is a very insightful piece and I asked Bob if I could forward it to the rest of the Lists for the other members to enjoy and contemplate as well. He gladly agreed, and so below I have included the text from that message. Enjoy. -Matt Dralle, Matronics Email List and Forum Administrator]

"As most of you know, Matt's ISP was fiddling with some crucial
details for the exchange of data on the 'net a few weeks ago.
The Lists, Matt's business site, and got really
flakey. . . I was 'unhooked' from the List and all of three of
my e-mail services for several days. Out of business and out
of touch.

After two days, I was beginning to worry. I had no idea as
to root cause nor was there a time table for resolution . . .
I began to mull over plan-B options. Of course, plan-B
would have entailed seeking a new home for and
ancillary services. NOT a quick, inexpensive or happy thing to

The time talents and resources that go into fabrication and
maintenance of some of the 'simplest' features of our lives often
go unnoticed . . . not because they're unappreciated . . . but simply
because we're unaware of their significance.

I will invite you all to read an essay by one Leonard Read written
in 1958 titled "I pencil". See:

It's a fascinating and well crafted peek into a society of
unacquainted, self-interested individuals who exploited
uncountable windows of opportunity for what has
been called "spontaneous order" in the manufacture and sales
of the simple wood pencil. The point of citing Mr. Read's
essay is to examine two features of the human experience that
contribute to the success of this List and our various interests
in airplanes.

The first point I'd like to make is that we cannot know
the millions of individuals who contributed to the materials
and infrastructure that make this List possible. We sit at the
top of a pyramid of work-product derived from the time,
talents and resources of millions of people who we'll never

Another feature I'd like to emphasis is our ignorance
of the criticality for any single component for a host
of materials and components for the manufacture and
sales of a simple pencil or an affordable airplane. Suppose
any one of the materials or processes described in Read's
essay were simply unavailable. How would that impact
the price of a pencil? Would the pencil even continue to
exist at it's new price? The really big question is, "How
might some seemingly small loss ripple throughout the
economy of our existence?"

The time, talent and resources that support infrastructure
for this List, my website, Matt's website, and our e-mails
cannot be accurately known. That infrastructure stands
on an exceedingly complex array of activities that arose
from the ingenuity and spontaneous organization of free-
market enterprises. But from our perch at the top of
this pyramid we need only look down a few layers and see that
this resource upon which we depend is vulnerable. There are
risks we all assume . . . Matt could get t-boned in an
intersection tomorrow. Lightning could strike the pole behind
his facility and do catastrophic damage to the hardware.
Yours truly could take a deer through the windshield on
his way to Wichita some morning.

Other risks are less catastrophic. They include things
like amateurish behaviors by maintainers of the Internet
highway's potholes. Perhaps some material critical to
the manufacture of terabyte hard drives dries up. Or
maybe the cost of keeping the lights on and the bytes
herded become more than Matt can justify given his personal
needs for existence.

Several times a year I get an opportunity to
plant new seeds of thought in the minds of fellow citizens.
One of my favorites is to be standing in a long line
at Panera's waiting to purchase a bagel and coffee and
hear somebody in line complaining about the
wait. I suggest to them that to wait in line for a
much desired product is a GOOD thing. Not having
to wait is a BAD thing if there is not enough business
to encourage them to be open tomorrow.

It goes without saying that few, if any of us, possess the
talents, resources or motivation to step up and do what
Matt does. At last count, there were about 1600 individuals
who subscribe to this List [Aeroelectric-List]. . .
certainly many more make up the population of subscribers
to all of the Lists on Matronics.

A few years back, Matt was besieged by legal trials
and tribulations over the naming of his products . . .
seems somebody claimed ownership of the words 'scan'
and/or 'scanner' . . . We here on the AeroElectric-List
perceived a risk to Matt's operations and came up with
several thousands of dollars to contribute to his defense
fund. We need make no greater 'investment' in Matt's
operations now than it takes to stand in a line for
a Quarter-Pounder Combo . . . or a fist full of pencils.

You and I can have no more positive influence over the
manufacture of pencils and hard drives than to continue
to purchase such things and encourage those with the
time, talent and resources to continue doing what they
do best.

Let's contribute to the comfortable maintenance of this
service which is probably more valuable than we know.
Just a little bit from thousands of us on the Matronics
Lists can make a big difference.

Bob . . ."

Please take a minute to make your Contribution today:

Or, drop a personal check in the mail to:

Matt Dralle / Matronics
581 Jeannie Way
Livermore CA 94550

Thank you for your support!

Matt Dralle
Matronics Email List and Forum Administrator

- The Matronics Engines-List Email Forum -

Use the List Feature Navigator to browse the many List utilities available such as the Email Subscriptions page, Archive Search & Download, 7-Day Browse, Chat, FAQ, Photoshare, and much more:

Matt Dralle
Matronics Email List Administrator
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