The bollocks of legacy businesses

I had lunch with a guy, who I respect immensely, the other day who recommended a book to me for some reading. I took the recommendation as a kind of homework. To be read and understood so we can discuss it at our next lunch.

I know he reads this blog so I wanted to let him know that I am working on obtaining the book. However I face a dilemma.

I no longer buy physical books. I have an iPad and the missus has a Kindle. We buy e-books. On my iPad i have Kindle software plus there is iBooks.

The book I was recommended to read is:

Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street by Tomas Sedlacek

Economics of Good and EvilTomas Sedlacek has shaken the study of economics as few ever have. Named one of the “Young Guns” and one of the “five hot minds in economics” by the Yale Economic Review, he serves on the National Economic Council in Prague, where his provocative writing has achieved bestseller status. How has he done it? By arguing a simple, almost heretical proposition: economics is ultimately about good and evil.

In The Economics of Good and Evil, Sedlacek radically rethinks his field, challenging our assumptions about the world. Economics is touted as a science, a value-free mathematical inquiry, he writes, but it’s actually a cultural phenomenon, a product of our civilization. It began within philosophy–Adam Smith himself not only wrote The Wealth of Nations, but also The Theory of Moral Sentiments–and economics, as Sedlacek shows, is woven out of history, myth, religion, and ethics. “Even the most sophisticated mathematical model,” Sedlacek writes, “is, de facto, a story, a parable, our effort to (rationally) grasp the world around us.” Economics not only describes the world, but establishes normative standards, identifying ideal conditions. Science, he claims, is a system of beliefs to which we are committed. To grasp the beliefs underlying economics, he breaks out of the field’s confines with a tour de force exploration of economic thinking, broadly defined, over the millennia. He ranges from the epic of Gilgamesh and the Old Testament to the emergence of Christianity, from Descartes and Adam Smith to the consumerism in Fight Club. Throughout, he asks searching meta-economic questions: What is the meaning and the point of economics? Can we do ethically all that we can do technically? Does it pay to be good?

Placing the wisdom of philosophers and poets over strict mathematical models of human behavior, Sedlacek’s groundbreaking work promises to change the way we calculate economic value.

Now here is the stupid part. I can buy the book in har copy and ship it to NZ. I can buy the book in hard copy here. But I don’t want a hard copy. There isn’t currently a Kindle version.

There are electronic versions of the book available but you simply can’t buy them online because as soon as you put your details into the sites it stops you because you live in NZ. I even tried using a mates address in New Mexico but because I use a kiwi credit card it too was rejected.

So my dilemma is this. I have found the book in electronic format on a torrent site. I can easily down load it in less time it has taken me to type this post.

There is also a cool piece of software called Calibre that some genius has written and made open source that allows you to convert any format e-book in to any other format for use on multiple devices.

I am really struggling to see why I need to conform to an outdated, obsolete sales and distribution model. It is no wonder that piracy is rife. If economics is about good and evil hten it is publishers, old media companies and the like that are making me head to the dark side.

I would happily pay for the book. They just don’t seem to want my money. I fail to see why our government should pass laws to protect legacy industries like this. We don’t have laws that compel us to make, sell or buy buggy whips so why are we passing laws to protect obsolete industries.

What prompted this post was this image on Boing Boing:


Paul Mutant’s “This Painting is Not Available in Your Country” is a pretty snappy and trenchant commentary on the incoherent absurdity of territorial rights enforcement in the age of the Internet.

It prompted my memory and my frustration at not being able to buy a book how I like, when I like. As Boing Boing says, it is an incoherent absurdity of territorial rights enforcement in the age of the Internet.

They need to adapt, or die. Meanwhile I think I will trip along to the dark side so I can complete my homework.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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