Looking back at Progress

Abstract: Optionality Magazine has now transformed into Optionality Discussions, an online WEBforum. This is the final and concluding article in the series of magazines issued monthly by Quintessence from January 1991 to December 1998. This article looks at how much progress has been made over that period.


A. The first issue of Optionality Magazine

The first issue of Optionality Magazine was released in January 1991 and contained the article Where Liberty stops . . . and Optionality continues. This article explained that optionality differs from concepts such as liberty, freedom, human rights, independence and competition, in that those concepts typically want governments to enact certain legislation, whereas optionality rejects government entirely.

Another article in that first issue described how progress in postal services is hampered by the fact that postal services are typically provided by a government monopoly. The article mentioned the example of people stamping a barcode on mail, representing the account number of their credit cards. This way, people could put the mail in an automatic mailbox that weighed the letter, measured its dimensions and read the destination, whatever was necessary to work out the cost of mailing. Such a mailbox could read the barcode, while allowing customers to swipe their credit cards and enter their PIN, thus facilitating automatic electronic payment.

Well, here we are all still queuing up at the Post Office to have our letters weighed and to buy stamps. So, what has changed over the period of almost a decade?

B. Changes in Society

While postal services have not changed much at first glance, many things have changed in the way people communicate and pay for services. Electronic mail has thrived, partially because conventional postal services are so restrictively operated by government monopolies. More money is now exchanged electronically by global money traders than all the money that governments hold in their coffers. Progress in computing and telecommunications has resulted in dramatic changes.

These changes will eventually make that such services will shake off the government monopolies as barriers in their further development. As predicted by DonParagon, these changes are to a large extent inevitable. Governments may try to slow them down, but in the end, this merely means that subsequent changes will take place more drastically, rather than gradually.

C. How about Ideological Change?

Much has changed since the early 1990s. Communism has collapsed and few people will try and turn back the clock. But few new ideologies have emerged.

Libertarianism is one of the ideologies that has grown in many places. But few people have drawn the conclusions mentioned in the article Where Liberty stops . . . and Optionality continues, back in 1991.

Anarchy is also growing in popularity, but as explained in many article in Optionality Magazine, anarchy shares the weaknesses with freedom and liberty that it is rather empty, even negative in concentrating on government, without much suggestions as to what should come instead of government control.

So, it seems like ideologically, little has changed and Optionality Magazine has made little or no impact.

D. A Change in Medium

Importantly, Optionality Magazine has over the years managed to describe DonParagon's Vision of the Future clearer and clearer. By adding the lyrics of many of DonParagon's songs, Optionality Magazine has become one of the most important sources of discussion of DonParagon's work.

But the above-mentioned changes have equally affected magazines and, as a result, Optionality Magazine has transformed from a paper-based monthly issue into an online WEBforum where people can enter into discussions from all over the world, without being held back by postal services.

While Quintessence still plans to release new paper issues of Optionality Magazine from time to time, this is only likely to occur for special occasions, This change is a logical step, in line with what DonParagon has been saying all the time. In fact, DonParagon has often argued that the nature of Optionality Magazine, in which text inevitably takes on the appearance of a scientific analysis or lecture, is incompatible with what he tries to express. While Optionality Discussions is a vast improvement, it still remains largely text-based. Therefore, one can expect a further transformation to take place in future, towards more audio-visual communication. In fact, Optionality Discussions already allows for icons, pictures, audio and video to be added, be it mostly as attachements. Apart from this, Quintessence Consultancy has conducted many face-to-face meetings, conferences and conversations in which paper-based content was only used for reference.

D. Conclusion

After discussing many issues at length for a period of almost a decade in Optionality Magazine, Quintessence has become even more convinced of virtues of its method (i.e. Comparative Analysis) and its preferred model (i.e. DonParagon's Vision of the Future). Optionality Magazine may not have had a large subscription base, in fact few people have ever read it at all. But by making earlier articles available on the Optionality Network, roughly as that have appeared in Optionality Magazine, people can see the consistency in Quintessence's consultancy work. And of course, the articles still provide the best reference source on the topic optionality!




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