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Re: Hey, Y'all, check out my new improved "Free Software Research Paper Project" web site!

"R. Brock Lynn" <brock@nettronix.net> writes:

> Adam Di Carlo wrote:

> >   * stressing sharing vs hoarding as the fundamental issue is
> >     reductionistic; it flattens other problems and issues, such as
> >     economic issues, social issues, etc.

> Sure there are exceptions. Notice I did not say absolute sharing and
> no hoarding... but more sharing than hoarding in the most general
> sense is better for all of us.
> If you can expound on your reasons behind why the reverse might be
> better, I'd like to hear them.

Um, no, you misread me.  I object to the two sides of the picture
being portrayed as "sharing" versus "hoarding".  Sure, for slogans or
sound bytes, that's a great dichotomy; but for reasoned debate, it's a
straw man.

Personally, I think the issue is "programming for hack value, fun, or
altruism"" versus "programming for cash".  Now, put in those terms,
it's a little more clear why there are probably 200 commercial
programmers for every free one.  In fact, it starts to be difficult to
try to explain to a programmer why they *shouldn't* be coding for cash
(which seems to be RMS' issue -- "no code for cash").  Personally, I
like to find a balance.  If a client wants to pay for code to be
written, great.  If I can convince the client to free the source for
all, even better (and there are benefits for many situations to this).
However, in some cases, the client would rather "hoard" the code and
slap a non-disclosure on me as well.

I know what I'm talking about -- this is reality.  I've been
programming and supervising programing in the commercial (and
academic) context for over 10 years now.

So you can see, when people start getting all frothy about "sharing
versus hoarding", that's all well and good, it just doesn't speak to
the reality of the actual world.

Personally, I think the client has the right to expect certain terms
on their code.  Some code represents a business edge -- they can't
free that logic and expect to retain their business edge.  That's

> >   * trying to find a basis for free software in science and physics is
> >     not really going to get you far; it's really a social and legal
> >     issue (intellectual property) which is at stake

> I disagree. Physics at the root, attempts to understand nature in a
> mathematical way. But mathematics is just another form of language,
> or communication. I think the concept of Entropy, or the Second Law
> of Thermodynamics applies to Free Software in its effects to society
> at large. Lower localized entropy is what we are striving for on a
> most general level. Tighter, better code that does more than not so
> organized, and well thought out code is but one example of low
> localized entropy. This is what we want.

> If you disagree, I'd like to hear your comments. I'd love for you to
> prove me wrong. I don't assert that I'm always right... just that I
> want to strive towards the truth. If anyone knows more of the
> "Truth"[tm] than I, then let him come forward and enlighten the rest
> of us... please!

This isn't physics, this is human behavior.  I can't "prove" anything.
I can only parley my experience and personal analysis.

For one, I don't think it's necessarily true that open source is
"tight" -- more likely, you could say it often suffers from severe
feature creap.  Nor is free software necessarily more organized or
thought out.

Ok, so all that aside, your point is that free software strives for
lower entropy.  How is that different from what Oracle, Corp. strives
after?  Both are just organizations -- one bonded by community or
Lockean Land Tithe Theory or whatever theory you subscribe to, and the
other bonded by economic motives.

Please, guys, lets not revert to utilitarianism.  Does anyone aside
from myself remember the last 30 years of sociology, social theory,
political theory, economics, and philosophy?

[from your example]

> He will even go so far as to allow each individual programmer retain
> full copyright to each individually written piece of code, so long
> as that code is then licensed for use under the GPL. (there are some
> interesting concepts surrounding how this can be done most
> effectively and legally) Basically GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS
> DUE. And you will reap the benefits of EGOBOO. This also Allows the
> company to "cover its A$$" if the employee decides to leave, and
> take his code with him... The original company is given license to
> still use it, whether he stays or leaves! Feel the power of the GPL!
> And NDA's will be a thing of the past for many things and in many
> areas once the GPL really catches on!  (am I oversimplifying?)

The only thing I object to in this argument is the pure naivety of it.
Suppose the software expresses a "unique business advantage".  In that
case, freeing it would be lunacy.

> Tell them to write up a first "system" if you will, that is just
> polished enough to attract attention. Then spread it far and wide...
> The company will make *very little* money on the distribution
> front. It will plan to make most if not all of it's "Bread 'n'
> Butter" from sales of service and support contracts to large and
> medium sized businesses that have a need for software systems that
> do "Y" very well.

Yeah, well, that's fine.  In fact, that was the rationale behind my
company freeing onShore TimeSheet.  Unfortunately, most companies are
still geared towards revenue generated from selling licenses.  In that
context, you can't pitch GPL.

> SOFTWARE INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE." I will laugh in your face if you
> think otherwise... Well, ok, let me get off my soap box. Actually, I
> will take very respectfully any comments, suggestions, or arguments
> to the contrary.

See the cases above.  You are simply ignoring all revenue from selling
licenses.  This is where ISV (independant software vendors) make the
bread and butter.  I don't think you could walk in and convince either
the CEO or the investors that a support/service model has the profit
potential of licenses on a "killer app".

You really should take up this discussion at the FSB (free software
business) list; a very good, well-balanced, knowledgable list.

.....Adam Di Carlo....adam@onShore.com.....<URL:http://www.onShore.com/>

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