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Re: The Show So Far

On Tue, Mar 11, 2003 at 09:10:28PM -0500, David Turner wrote:
> Someone already answered the google question for you -- it saves you the
> 20k on a Google Search Appliance for your intranet.  

That's akin to someone releasing the source of a neat, self-contained
algorithm from an application.  I can use it in my own programs, and
improve other, unrelated things with it, or learn from it, or critique

But it doesn't let me improve the application that it's from at all,
since I don't have its source.  Likewise, Google releasing source
might have lots of other benefits, but it doesn't let me improve Google
in any way, and I believe those "other benefits" are peripheral.

Now, we seem to have two related but distinct cases: Google and

In the case of Google, their releasing source simply doesn't let me
improve Google--period.  There's nothing that can be done about this.
This applies to most "web apps", since the fundamental reason most web
apps are web apps is either a) the server takes a lot of resources to
run (Google), or b) the server connects a bunch of people together (eg.
an IRC server). (case 1)

In the case of BarInterface, it *may* be reasonable to run a separate
copy of the server on my own system, with my enhancements.  This is
just about always the case when the example is something that was once a
standalone application, and has been converted to ASP/RFC (eg. your GCC
example).  This is probably the more feared case of this--that someone
will take my source, improve it, offer its use via ASP and not let
anyone have the source; the fear that it's a means to get around having
to give away your improvements. (case 2)

I'd say case 2 is the only one that can be reasonably called a "loophole",
and is the one Thomas is claiming simply isn't a problem.  As I said
above, I think it's fundamentally impossible to fix #1; releasing source
to Google looks neat, but while it shares some nice side effects with
releasing GCC's source, it doesn't let me (the user of the program--for
the sake of discussion) improve the program (www.google.com), which is
the primary, fundamental goal.

I do think these two cases should be considered independently.  The
"provide the source to users of a webpage" discussion revolves around
#1, which I think is distinct, and doesn't help #2 at all.

Glenn Maynard

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