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Sad, sad, news: "ArsDigita, a privately held software company in Cambridge, was shut down on Tuesday. At least some of the company’s assets, primarily from its professional services division, will be sold to [create Red Hat] Inc., an open-source Linux software company in Durham, NC, according to sources close to the company."
Philip Greenspun: "I've spent most of the past two months taking flying lessons and preparing for my class at MIT. So I'm not an expert on things ArsDigitan.
"Spending time in the aviation world has given rise to some thoughts about why there are so few plane crashes and so many business failures. The FAA establishes strict guidelines on what training and experience is required before someone can be pilot-in-command in various situations (daytime, nighttime, instrument conditions, single engine, multiengine, turbine, all alone, one passenger, lots of passengers, etc.). Very seldom is a pilot legally able to get into a situation that is beyond his or her capabilities, training, and experience (JFK, Jr., for example, was flying in instrument meteorological conditions with only a visual flight rules rating; he was legally required to make an immediate U-turn and fly back into the clear). But in the business world the Peter Principle rules: people are promoted until they reach a job at their level of incompetence. Because there are no standards, it really isn't possible to say whether a person is unfit for a business job until and unless you give him or her the job. Afterwards it is tough to admit that you made a mistake and demote or fire the incompetent-at-that-level person."
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