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Re: Inconsistencies in our approach

John Goerzen <jgoerzen@complete.org> writes:

> That's an overly-expansive view of software.  You would include anything
> that is digital in that description -- audio CDs, DVD movies, off-air TV
> signals, books on disk, etc.  I find it very hard to quantify Beethoven's
> Ninth Symphony as software, even if it was recorded digitally, given that
> the invention of software postdated its composition by a LONG time -- and
> that the invention of software postdated early recordings by a long time as
> well.

Actually, I find it trivial to "quantify" the Ninth as software.  (I
admit that your usage of the word "quantify" is obscure in the extreme
here.  What exactly is being enumerated?)

The distinction is between atoms and bits.  Software is bits, hardware
is atoms.  The distinction between programs and documentation, is at
best a loose one centered in how people are using the relevant bits,
and isn't amenable to rigid analysis.

What makes software "soft", as opposed to hard, is that it is bits,
and not atoms.

It was after the computer revolution that we discovered that software
vs. hardware was a valuable distinction, but this does not mean that
software was invented that late in the game.  Once people realized the
importance of the distinction, we have been able to go back and
re-understand the past much more effectively.

Beethoven's Ninth, and any particular recording of it, are manifestly
bits, are quite different from the physical paper copies of a score or
a recording, and are clearly software.  


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