Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Sunday, February 13, 2005

  John Boyd - a brilliant mind, a difficult life

General, I'd pull the wings off, install benches in the bomb bay, paint the goddamn thing yellow, and turn it into a high speed line taxi. - John Boyd, on the F-111.

I've always studied and attempted to emulate idiosyncratic thinkers - men that thought "outside the box" like Richard Feynman, James Crick, Emeagwali, and Eric Raymond.

To this list I have to add John Boyd. I'm going to attempt to consistently use his OODA Loop, and ruminate much more on Destruction and creation. Reader: Read these links. Think about them.

He combined Heisenberg and Gödel - brilliant! The summation of his E-M theory:
to win or gain superiority, you must get inside the adversary's time scale - applies to many things besides aircraft design - The Linux revolution, for example. Linux wins everywhere it can operate inside the enemy's time scale.

I do submit, respectfully, to Boyd-philes, that his unsettling techniques for winning battles are ill-suited to keeping the peace. Keeping the peace requires a stability, a predictability, in the relations between the protector and protected that is absent from our behavior in Iraq. By optimizing for success in battle alone, we make it difficult to keep the peace. I think Chet Richards has captured this, and as I have been struggling for an answer to problems presented by the books by Clayton Christensen ("The innovator's dilemma") and it's logical successor ("Crossing the chasm") for a few years now. I think, somewhere, in Boyd's work, is the glimmering of a clue.

Today I characterize the war between Linux and M$ as an analogy between guerilla tactics and a set piece frontal assault. And I note, that once the individual champions of chaos grow tired, or distracted, the ones that have assembled overwhelming forces tend to win.

I was shocked to read that the F-22 hasn't been canceled yet - in an age that requires more police forces on the ground than combat troops in the air.
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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