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What Is The Law?
Jamais Cascio, 9 Jan 04

"What is the law? (No spill blood.)
"Who makes the rules? (Someone else.)"
-- D. Elfman, "House of Pain"

The Edge, a site run by John Brockman as a forum for some of the smartest/most interesting/oddest folks around, poses an annual Big Question for them to answer. This year's is "What's Your Law?" (And since the Edge's exploration of this question begins with a quote from Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau, I thought I'd start ours with a quote from Oingo Boingo's updated version.)

Over 150 of Edge's luminaries have contributed answers to this question, including WorldChanging favorites such as Bruce Sterling ("Sterling's Law of Ubiquitous Computation: First, your home is a constant, while the Net is a place you go; then the Net becomes a constant while your home is a place you go."), Pamela McCorduck ("McCorduck's Law: A linear projection into the future of any science or technology is like a form of propaganda — often persuasive, almost always wrong."), and Stewart Brand ("Brand's Asymmetry: The past can only be known, not changed. The future can only be changed, not known.").

A few contributors are more interested in being funny than being insightful (a sin of which I'm often guilty), and a few others are more interested in being garrulous than pithy (another sin of mine). Still, as a whole, the list of "laws" is well-worth reading and pondering.

But now, it's your turn: what are your Laws?

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How about "Alton's postmodern revision of Dick's Law"? Philip K. Dick stated "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Actually, "Reality is that which, when everyone stops believing in it, doesn't go away."

Posted by: Alton Naur on 11 Jan 04

It's amazing how little diversity there is amongst "some of the world's most complex and sophisticared minds". Ah well.

Maybe this explains it:

Posted by: Zaid on 11 Jan 04

An astute observation, Zaid. It does then lead to the question of *who else* should have included -- there must be smart, sophisticated thinkers out there who have some depth and experience but who aren't the usual suspects (mostly-male white boomers and their fellow-travelers). Who would you suggest?

Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 11 Jan 04

Without looking, what was the count of "Do as thou wilt?"

I'm hoping zero but ready to be disappointed.

Posted by: Howard on 13 Jan 04

Gupta's first law: "All exceptional abilities arise as defences"

Gupta's second law: "All potentials imply equal and opposite hidden barriers"

Gupta's third law: "People will kill to maintain their emotional homeostasis."

Cheerful little bugger, aren't I?

Posted by: Vinay on 15 Jan 04



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