source access vs dynamism
29 Aug 1999 02:11:57 +0200
I'm sorry about this much too long a message.
You know, it's hard enough to argue with two sets of arguments at once,
by two brilliant people (Erik and Ken), each with one's own personal mindset.
It leads to contorted messages that mix without matching
several points of views at once, and that hence are long and hard to read.
Since the debate has (once again) slipped from dynamic software
to free software, I propose that the latter topic be discussed outside
of comp.lang.lisp, for instance on the cybernethics mailing-list
(please propose other places where to move the debate, if you will).
Whatever messages remain on comp.lang.lisp should focus more
on the technical aspects (such as "what exactly is dynamic software?";
"what does it become in presence of concurrent and distributed systems?").
T'was once said on comp.lang.lisp:
>: Kent M Pitman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>>: Francois-Rene Rideau <I+fare+WANT@tunes.NO.org.SPAM>
>>>: Erik Naggum <email@example.com>
>>> I'm advocating source access to people who express an actual desire and
>>> need for it.
>> So am I. The question I raise is: "who'll be judge?".
> Traditionally, money.
Bzzt, wrong! Money (as you put it below) is the _medium_
(a good one at that), but not quite the decision maker.
Don't confuse the messenger and the originator!
Mind you, there has always been money
in the Soviet Union and all communist countries
(communism has been arguably described as not opposed to capitalism,
but an embodiment of capitalism in its worst form, complete monopoly).
Money never decides. People decide, depending on price and expected value.
The adequation of price to value depends on the price of exchanged services
being freely negociated by both parties, as opposed to being biased
by the unilateral force of a monopoly, by the arbitrary decision of
a government, or worse, the totalitarian force of a monopolistic government.
So the question is not and has never been "is there a market?".
Of *course* there is a market, even if it trades sheep instead of coins!
The question is "how free is the market?".
> Money is simply an interchange medium for "stuff I'm interested in"
> and "stuff you're interested in". If you do something in
> life--anything--that someone else really wants, they'll give you money
> for it. If they won't, you have to question whether they want it.
Exactly. It is a _medium_. It changes _nothing_ to the wills and forces
in presence, it only fluidifies the dynamics of exchanges (which is a
great feat in itself, but completely independent from the issues at stake).
> You can create barter systems in which money is not exchanged, but they
> are hard to account for and you get people who don't pull their weight.
> That's why the world uses money and not smiles as a way of counting who's
> done what for who.
Sure. That is, when stupid laws don't force people to either exchange smiles
or do things in secret and risk jail, by making it illegal to exchange money
against some whole classes of services: see free trade vs customs & smuggling
or free entreprise vs governmental work & moonlighting,
or freely redistributable software vs software hoarding & piracy,
freely modifiable software vs illegal modification & binary patching,
freely understandable software vs illegal inspection & reverse engineering.
> So if you're willing to trade the money you have for someone else, all
> that says is that it's of value to you. And if you're not, then maybe
> it's not as much of value as you think.
Sure. Now, what if someone forces me to pay an extra fee for no service,
say the mafia who'll destroy my shop if I don't pay protection money?
Most people will just pay the money, all the more if they can say
"after all, it was not completely wasted, since they did not only
protect me, but they also did render a few useful services".
Of course, I could cease activity and close my shop, if I don't value
it that much. I could also let competition play, and ask the protection
of another gang. Or I could do it the hard way and fight the mafia,
by arming my family with guns, hopefully with the help of the police;
but no responsible head of a family would be the first to take that risk.
Worse even: sometimes, the mafia doesn't send mobsters to "explain"
what happens to your shop when you refuse to cooperate; instead they
send lawyers, and then they send the police if you still won't cooperate;
for they have found a way to get law with them rather than against them.
Of course, the worst situation is when political power itself is in the hands
of the mob, as inevitably happens after invasions and revolutions,
but that's another topic of discussion. Suffice it to say that again,
the root of the close match between price and value is in a free market.
If you read "das Kapital", you'll see that Marx founded his whole
"economical" theory by rejecting this basic principle, whereas this principle
is the crown jewel of Economy 101 (see against texts by Turgot and Bastiat).
Oh, and don't try to see more in these examples than a way to comment
on the _argument_ and its large domain of validity; they are in no way
a comparison with the specific case at hand.
> If people are willing to give away what they do, that's fine. That
> just means they don't value it or they have enough money that they
> don't feel a need to charge for everything they do. One would hope
> that all people could be philanthropic sometimes. But they have to
> eat and I don't see giving them a hard time about that.
Bzzt, wrong again! Free software is not, has never been, and
will never be against business. Quite on the contrary, it's all about
the free trade of _services_, and the end of licensing _racket_.
In the same way, those people who fight slavery, or pollution,
don't have anything against business per se, when they fight
slave-traders or polluting industries who make money out of these activities;
they have nothing against making money, only against the particular way
by which money is made, and only in as much as that way negates
fundamental rights of individuals, or global welfare.
They fight for individual rights and common interest, not against business.
Maybe current free software hackers have been working mostly for nothing,
but it's not been because they like it and want it that way;
it's been because capitals have been completely diverted from free software
development by proprietary software development. Happily, things are now
moving fast, and despite all the disbelief of even fine people like you,
people are nonetheless understanding that free software means more business;
and apparently in the last few weeks,
some people have been betting 4.5 bn$ on it with the RedHat IPO.
Not much, but it's only one company among so many, and only a beginning.
>> In one case, it'll be an all-mighty centralized marketing department,
>> and in the other case, it'll ultimately be the person in need oneself.
> It doesn't really matter because it is not your fundamental right to have
> me do anything for you. It is my right to make something if I see the point
> and not to otherwise.
I fear you completely misunderstand the free software philosophy.
_Of course_, you have the right to not do anything for me.
But you do not have the right to forbid other people (including myself)
to do something for me (like, copying software, decompiling it,
understanding it, modifying it, redistributing it, etc).
When you acquire some privilege upon me, it's an injustice.
And if you use this privilege to raise the price of your services,
that's an injustice. If your marketing guy in charge uses that privilege
against you and me and prevents us from cooperating, it's an injustice.
When you make someone else than one responsible of deciding what one can do,
it's not just an injustice, it's making one less than one is; it's an attempt
to one's person. By taking responsibility away from a lot people, you create
as many irresponsible people, and this constitutes an attempt against mankind.
> The thing that drives me nuts about these discussions
> is how many people seem to think they have a right to something I make just
> because I create it.
I fear that once again, you completely miss the point.
Nobody claims a right to see what you create without paying you.
Free software people are the first to claim that software development
is a _service_, that should be retributed as such.
Moreover, if you think laws guarantee you have a right on what you create,
you're a fool: your employer is the one granted the privileges by law!
> If the world were that way, I'd probably create fewer things.
> I would instead use my brain to seek out some way to do
> something that would let me eat. I would not spend the same fraction of my
> day thinking up good ideas and giving them away and still being hungry.
You would be the rare case. Most creators I know create despite ourselves;
we do not choose to create, we just do create, it's the very expression of
our lives; even in the most rotten of communist concentration camp, we do.
So that we be more productive, we only require having enough to live decently
so as to focus on our work, and having adequate tools to work with.
We don't care about having one chance in a thousand to be multimillionaire,
as is the promise of the proprietary information driven star system;
we just want to approximately sure to live decently.
And I'm sure that free information will make it a better world for us
than a world of information hoarding: we live by the services we can render,
and a free market of those services is a easier place for us to render them
than a market partitionned by license barriers.
>> Of course, in a perfect world, the person in charge will choose well;
> Who are you to say he hasn't. It isn't your right to it until you've ante'd
> up the interchange currency (money) for exprssing interest.
So only the dead victims can sue the murderers?
Who are you to say he has? Do you pretend that no legitimate user
was ever refused source access and modification? That it will never
ever be the case and that companies may blindly rely on it?
Don't you know that it is usual vendors either disappear,
or choose cunilaterally to terminate a product line,
at the dismay of years-long satisfied users? [favorite example: ILOG LISP].
And who are you to ask who I am to say?
It isn't your right until you've ante'd enough money to be warrant
for the perfect choice of all persons in charge of disclosing sources,
for the rest of times. *Of course* I have right to doubt that choice
are perfects. The burden of the proof should not be on the one who doubts.
And by the way, my company _is_ a disappointed former customer of _a lot_
of software (LISP for a tiny bit only), that, despite being once
"successful" and sometimes excellently supported, have since been
cruelly abandonned by their vendor, with no recourse it self maintenance.
>> but in a perfect world, the person won't need to be in charge, either.
> This is a completely arbitrary and self-serving claim.
Much less than yours. In a perfect world, no need for anything,
since the world is perfect; I'm pointing to the vaccuum of arguments
based on a hypothesis of perfection, which are at best inapplicable
because of the completely unstability of such perfection.
If you give someone (whoever) a repressive responsibility, you must take
into account the eventuality of that person's mistake or failure;
in a world without failure, repression is unnecessary.
That's where you need dynamic retroaction effects to limit the repression.
If some irresponsible (i.e. cannot be sued, or anything)
is to decide for others, then there's no retroaction,
and things will eventually go wrong.
>> So the question is about the dynamic effects in an imperfect world:
>> what attitude has most positive dynamic effects?
> Right. And I claim the one that has the most postiive dynamic effect is the
> one that incentivizes content creators. Content consumers, the ones who want
> to USE free stuff, don't need an incentive. And if you're a legitimate
> content creator who can't get access to something, you'll just create
> something else. True content creators are versatile and capable of creating
> lots of things.
Just where is the incentive for creators in proprietary software?
I see none, but possibly a corrupting one.
Consumers put their money where value is.
That's ultimately the one and only source of monetary incentive involved.
When software _is_ useful, and generates value,
it needn't any intellectual property "protection" to happen:
the market forces that will make it appear are already there,
and the necessary infrastructure will quickly appear if let live.
When the software is _not_ useful, or at least not as much as it should,
then, and only then may be benefit from an IP-induced incentive,
feeding on the customers trapped within its IP barriers.
The differential effect of intellectual property on creation
is _against_ creation that builds on former creation and progresses,
and _for_ creation of inferior quality but attractive look that hooks people.
THAT is the IP-induced incentive.
And the fourth effect is to spread venom in society,
by making collaboration look suspicious and discollaboration look meriting.
I see the broken eggs, but I see no omelette; instead, I see poison.
You say creators are versatile? Sure. They'll easily adapt to free software;
actually, they are the ones who built the free software movement, mind you!
As for innovation,
under free software, keeping developments secret for a long time
is counter-productive, for you make little money,
spend a lot in development, and take the risk of other people
independently inventing similar things;
so you have to focus on developments that work, release early,
and sell services early.
No more of these huge projects that take tens and tens of man-years,
never get released (or much too late, when all potential customers are gone),
and end up in a trash can (Xanadu, K-machine, Apple Dylan, Taligent, Multics,
you name it). Actually, no more projects that end up in a trash can at all
because of eventual management decisions (any ILOG guy reading?);
projects raise interest and live according to their technical qualities,
and faded interest may wax again the day people realize
something good was hiding inside the software.
In these conditions, will software firms make these investments?
Of course they will! for in a world of free software,
only technical advance differentiates you from your customer,
so research and development is the most important criterion
to gain a competitive advantage.
Will there be software firms at all? Of course there will! for
the global incentive, i.e. potential use value, is exactly the same
with free software, so the money-making opportunity are the same.
Actually, since free software fluidifies the market,
and prevents parasites that monopolize the market around bad software,
it will increase the money-making opportunity for _honest software makers_,
and decrease the opportunity for crooks,
making it a better world for everyone.
> Now, I agree completely that the idea of restrictions on "independent
> creation" (software patents) are a nuissance that should be struck
> down because they arbitrarily and capriciously restrict the right of
> an alternate content creator to show that an idea wasn't as hard to
> come up with as the original creator thought. But that's where I stop
> in the "free software" area.
You seem to forget the fact that software builds up.
What if I'm a specialist in a fairly specific topic
(like symbolic integration, or numeric approximation of some equations),
but have no particular proficiency in other topics,
including implementation of a symbolic mathematic package.
With the proprietary software model, I cannot freely exercise my talents.
Either I hack a proprietary software infrastructure,
and I must surrender anything I write to the "owners" of the infrastructure,
who by restriction of the job supply can underpay and exploit me,
or I must rewrite a symbolic mathematic package from scratch,
despite my limited specialty, or I must find another specialty.
With free software, I can join any existing project,
and use my talents to develop my own incremental piece of software
without being subject to anyone's whims,
and without preventing anyone from exercising one's talents.
Free software make people free to exercise their talents,
and sell this exercise of their talents.
No barrier, no desincentive, to complex and unnecessary human dependencies;
just what's needed, and no more. Efficiency, productivity.
>> It looks like to me the "make people responsible and trust them" attitude
>> is the winning one.
> I think once the bills are paid, responsibility is not the issue in
> "acquisition" of software. (It might be in the choice of deployment.
> My concern about software ethics has little to do with how people "modify"
> software but whether they make good ethical use of modified software.
> And this is orthogonal to copyright concerns.)
"Once the bills are paid". But proprietary software makes software
licensing so expensive that the acquisition thereof can only be made
before the bills are paid, so as to pay the bills. And there again,
the price will prevent individuals from choosing their tools;
instead, tools will be chosen by management.
>> You said it many times about the CL vs C++ attitude:
>> CL trusts the programmer, whereas C++ distrusts them, and the result is
>> trustworthy CL programmers, and untrustworthy C++ programmers.
>> The same argument applies to free software vs proprietary software.
> I can't find a useful structural basis for believing this analogy holds.
> The mere use of the same multi-meaning word in a sentence seems a weak
> basis for believing an analogy will hold up. Perhaps you can expand on
> what structural basis would give you confidence in this analogy other than
> that you like the outcome if the analogy is allowed to let stand.
Free and open software says "everyone has the _right_ to see the source,
but under one's sole responsibility". It means that programmers are trusted,
and will suffer from the consequences of their sole acts.
Your and Erik's "someone else will decide for the programmer if he
had a good reason to see the source" is an attitude of distrust towards
the programmer. You take away his responsibility to decide which tools
are good for him. You can but lessen the programmer doing that.
This is the opposite of giving advice to him as to whether
or not he needs to use the sources, which could only make him better.
In one case, you make people responsible, hence trustworthy;
in the other case, you make people less responsible, hence untrustworthy.
>> [...] Yes, we do fear the vendor.
> I find the idea of fearing a content creator offensive. Content creators
> have no obligation to make you anything at all. Fearing them is being mad
> at them that when they gave you something, they didn't give you twice as
> much. That is nothing more than rude in my book. No one makes you buy
> from them at all.
Bzzzt, wrong! Of course, a random creator owes me nothing.
But the one whose services I pay sure owes me the services I paid for!!!!
And not blindly trusting them is how I can ensure that I get what I pay for.
Now, I have every reason to fear proprietary vendors, because they have
complete monopoly on services related to the software they support;
if their service is or becomes less than initially expected,
or worse, if they discontinue their service, I have no way out,
but throwing my copious man-time investment in the software;
and seeing that once installed, nothing forces them to produce good services,
they _will_ produce bad services as soon as they gain enough market share,
and they _will_ discontinue their service if their market share
is not large enough; now, because of network effects, it is guaranteed that
for any important, structurating, software, you will only have a few big
vendors and a lot of tiny ones...
The only safe choice is in buying services from a free software company;
this guarantees your freedom to buy similar services from competition,
the stability and the quality of the software, and the perenniality of
Creation is a service, but it's just one service among the many needed
to get software running. On the pretense of promoting creation,
intellectual property ignores all the other services, and sets up
monopolies for them. Free market economists have always fought and
will always fight monopolies: all monopolies, and not just public monopolies.
Also, by trapping creation within protection barriers, intellectual property
also devaluates any incremental, progress-making creation.
The god-inspired creator is a myth. We creators create from the material
available to us, provided by 15 billion years of civilization-making;
intellectual property restricts the material available to us,
and makes us lesser creators; it doesn't provide any single additional
incentive to creation, but instead casts creators into chains held
by publishers and other "intellectual property" barons.
What I fear about proprietary vendors is _not_ their mind-slave creators;
what I fear about them is their behavior of monopolistic mind-barons.
>> Working with the developers
> [who did not have to develop this for you and you're lucky did]
In as much as I DID pay, they DID develop this for me.
In as much as I WOULD pay, they WOULD have developed this for me.
If I see value in a (category of) software, then I'm ready to invest
corresponding money, and I don't care, a priori, who will provide me
the software and how. Intellectual property reduces my opportunity
to see the software, by erecting barriers. It prevents proficient
developers from providing me with honest service, because they
depend on a management that
It thus increases the cost of software.
>> is not co-stable with proprietary software,
>> all the less as the software spreads and is used by more and more people.
> Then don't use it.
Exactly. I avoid to depend on any proprietary software,
unless there is no free software equivalent (e.g. my computer's BIOS).
And I do collaborate with developers of free software applications I use.
>> CL dooms itself in being a fringe language
>> if it claims providing this contact.
> This is a possible truth, but is not because of right or obligation.
> This is the first statement I've seen in here which was focused on effect
> rather than right.
Maybe you don't understand the direct relationship that exists
between right and effect, and that constitutes the very foundation
of Political Economy. If you don't see this relationship,
how can you say _anything_ rational concerning rights?
And if you do see it, then how can you consider right without
taking its effects into account?
May I risk to refer to Frédéric Bastiat?
> Nothing I've said should be taken to mean that I don't
> think that a content producer doesn't have to meet a certain expectation
> level with their product in order to sell it. You can't make a paperweight
> and sell it for a hundred dollars; you have to motivate the public to buy
> it at that price (as with the "pet rock" marketing plan) or you have to
> drop the price. But that "have to" is not a law; it's just an economic
Exactly. Access to source, in absence of intellectual property,
will not be a "right". It will be an economic reality.
If you do not disclose your source, no one will use your software
for any task they depend on. Because source is the very guarantee
that there be a free market of development services. Mind you,
this is already happening, now, before your eyes.
If, like Erik, you explain all the tremendous free software efforts
just as a "maneuver" against M$ (a bizarre conspiracy theory!),
then you are blinding yourself. If not, I'd like to read your explanation.
What I'm fighting against is so-called intellectual property.
It strongly biases the software market. It corrupts the minds of people.
It modifies prices. It prevents people from working honestly.
Note that I'm already convinced that free software is just a matter of time,
nowadays, and that the abolition of intellectual property will be a battle
fought and won the hard way by the turn of next century.
What I'm worried about, and the reason why I spend my time explaining it
on comp.lang.lisp is that by not acknowledging it, the LISP community
will miss a great opportunity to have the world benefit from dynamic
and reflective software as well as from free software;
and the world is missing a great opportunity to fully take advantage
of existing technology such as dynamic software.
I wish that at least one LISP vendor would join early the free software model.
Who'll be the CYGNUS of free LISP? Maybe CMUCL and/or Dylan hackers
should join into a company? I'm just sick of computer scientists
re-discovering LISP lore ten years after, and the industry re-discovering it
yet ten years after.
> I don't think it's any vendor's moral or ethical or legal obligation to do
> any price with me;
Neither would I, in a free market; what I think is immoral and unethical,
and should be illegal, is the intellectual property protection racket.
Now, if we are to keep this model of a monopoly on services related
to every single software, then prices of such services should be set by
independent institutions, as with all monopolies.
By the way, I am not against you right to keep your sources secret,
as long as you be the one to cover the cost of keeping it,
and as you assume the risk that it be unveiled.
> my argument is simply based on common sense
You have no monopoly on common sense.
I'm sorry I fail to see any arguments of yours here,
but only vague, unbacked intuitions, and lots of doubts.
You essentially say "I don't know, for I don't have arguments".
Well, I do know, for I do have arguments.
Of course, I may be wrong, but to convince me,
you need arguments, not just admission that you have none.
Of course, you may be unconvinced by my arguments,
but at least acknowledge them what they are,
instead of setting up a straw man
and founding your doubts on ground my arguments dispell.
I know you try to stay as objective as you can;
I know that it's difficult to argue by written messages,
because of the high latency and sudden information overload that happens;
but, independently from your agreeing or not with my arguments,
the main thing I regret is that (at least it seems to me) you're having
a bad internal representation of what free software people think,
and what our arguments are or are not (whereas, conceited as I may be,
I think I somehow grasp your position and its internal consistency).
> and not a
> "fear of vendors" but a "fear for them" because I care about them and want
> them to have many years of happy vending at a proper price point--one that
> is non-zero enough to get them life support money and not so high that it
> drives my employer to want to use Java instead. Free CL, btw, is NOT where
> my employer will go instead.
You don't have monopoly on care, either.
I do care for developers, for creators.
However, I do not care for rapacious IP-based management;
I wouldn't give a damn if they were all sent burning into the sun
(actually, I would care about for the wasted rocket).
I am confident that proficient developers and original creators
will be employed and free of the choice of their languages and tools
in absence of IP.
Have you proposed a single reason why they wouldn't?
Just what do you fear about your software being freely available?
That customers will look for support from unproficient programmers?
That suddenly, no one will be interested in your software anymore,
because it be free? That people will see how bad the code you write is?
That they will find bugs in it? If what you fear is loss of licensing
revenue, can you state how much of your revenue is due to licensing,
and how much is due to development, packaging, support, and other services?
What about other computer workers?
Do you fear that more users won't generate more demand for support services?
Do you fear that your software will so quickly become so perfect
and that all software problems will be solved so completely,
that you soon will be jobless?
>> With widely spread proprietary software,
>> developer contact is part of the cost structure,
>> and is fought against by management.
> This seems an arbitrary and statistically unsupported claim.
I contend that this has been the case of all "best-selling" software,
and otherwise software living by sales of licenses (the proprietary software
model) as opposed to sale of service (the free software model).
It has happened to just every proprietary software I've seen in the eighties.
>> With widely spread free software, developer contact is a service
>> that you sell; it's part of the profit structure and sought by management.
> This seems an arbitrary and statistically unsupported claim.
> I don't see any reason this can't be true of commercial companies.
It's obviously true. Free software businesses, by very definition,
live only by selling services. Proprietary software businesses,
by very definition, live at least partly on their license sale,
and found their whole business plans on the monopoly value of their licenses
(e.g. indirect license-generated revenue through increased service fees).
> Nothing about commercial software says that a company couldn't charge for
> developer access. If there are a small number of developers, it's likely
> that the inability to clone them creates the real upper bound on access to
> them, regardless.
Bzzzt! Wrong. You're confusing "commercial" and "proprietary" software.
RedHat, SuSE, GNU C, GNU Ada, Sendmail, are commercial free software.
And there are plenty of non-commercial "freeware" proprietary software.
>> [...] Dynamic software WILL win; it will win WITH free software,
>> not against it.
> This is a possible truth but not a necessary truth.
Everyone's one's opinion.
> There are strong
> reasons already cited elsewhere to believe Dynamic Software is more
> compatible with proprietariness than Static software is.
I have even stronger reasons to doubt it. I've developed some in
But more paradigmatically, the whole justification of the proprietary
software model is that software be a product that you sell,
with a well-defined producer (NOT author), and a well-defined consumer.
Dynamic software challenges this producer/consumer relationship;
it challenges the notion of a product; it makes a situation
of collaboration and service all too obvious; it undermines
the very foundations of the proprietary software paradigm,
unless strictly limited to well-defined third-party "plug-ins".
> It can be
> composed in a mix and match environment without opening the hood,
> pretty much like components in your stereo (where most people don't
> look inside either) and where a healthy cost per component doesn't
> keep the industry from thriving.
That's rigid black box component software,
not quite the same as malleable dynamic software.
People typically do it with static software components.
>> Proprietary software has brought upon us the domination of
>> FORTRAN, COBOL, PL/1, C, C++. Static languages.
> I don't know what this claim is based on. I thought some of these
> languages came free with operating systems and that all you paid for
> was the iron back in the days these things gained dominance. I might
> be wrong. Also, people made new languages every day back then and
> most of those new languages were not charged for. If free software
> had been such a win, it would have clobbered those languages.
Marginally free of charge (gratis) isn't quite the same as
free of intellectual property claims (libre).
If you still don't understand that,
you haven't been following any free software argument
(make that "open source", if your ears ring whenever you hear "free").
And yes, free software has been a win.
LISP has been developed as a free software, were anyone could come,
take the sources, and hack them; so have been C and UNIX;
albeit in all these cases, they were proprietarized post facto,
"thanks" to our wonderful IP laws that make employees
mind slaves of their employers.
You can see what languages survived the wars of the eighties.
BASIC and Pascal took the proprietary path, and after some success,
faded away to never exist again, but as lone implementations
with which they are identified, and with which they will eventually die.
Part of LISP took that path, and it took the other part and a lot
of technical excellence (and implementational simplicity) to make it survive.
Without free LISPs, there would have been no more new LISPers for ten years.
All in all, yes, free software HAS won.
Every other large company I know has developed
its own proprietary internal scripting language.
All these proprietary languages die.
The few proprietary languages that survive are those
that are commercialized in a way that fit the proprietary development model
of write, compile into something cryptic, sell.
Don't be fooled: the costability factor between static languages
and the proprietary software model is largely in the obscurity effect
of compilers, more than in their alledged efficiency factor.
And even then, these languages do not survive much as languages,
only as lone implementations.
> [...] It may be cool, but it's interest in accounting programs
> (largely business) and physics simulation software (largely DoD)
> that paid the bills for a long time, fueling the industry to live
> long enough to be able to generate people with computers at all and
> knowledge at all that allowed the creation of most of these other
Sure. But what has this to do with static vs dynamic software?
Static vs dynamic is not the feature of any application,
business or physics or teaching or research or whatever.
It's a feature of development environments.
It's not about computer programs, it's about computer programming.
>> On the other hand, there are static free languages (SML, OCAML, Haskell),
>> but even they have interactive top-levels,
>> and they have a hard time capturing free software developer mindshare.
> Possibly due to a lack of commercial market? Who wants to give away
> time if they can't figure out where the dollars will come from?
Certainly, there are cultural barriers to free software.
You seem to be the embodiment of them :) Which is why people involved
in free software feel the need to explain things and dispell misconceptions.
I just wish my messages have an overall positive effect.
> Why does your whole analysis seem to neglect the importance of money to
> these activities which consume large amounts of time and resources, even
> if only at one's house?
Where in my analysis don't you see money?
On the contrary, free software opens up a lot of money-making opportunities
that are killed by intellectual property: third party service,
incremental development, adapting retail software to niche markets,
distribution under various media, etc. Free software is free entreprise
of software services. Intellectual property is barriers within each
of which a monopoly reigns -- it is the feudal age of computing.
>> And the fact that he does not come with source is just a fact of nature,
> It's possible, by the way, that nature found that if you did have the
> sources available, a billion little free software viruses would be busy
> attacking and you'd lose.
As far as I know, proprietary systems are the primary target
of computer virus attacks, and open systems have been "miraculously" spared
by the flail. I have suggested a few reasons why in a previous message in
a previous message to the cybernethics mailing-list:
> I think it's an interesting aspect of human
> construction that if they are broken up for disassembly, the running source
> begins immediately to decay and to defy inspection.
When you split a source into separated files that no more interact,
a program hardly works anymore, either.
A more interesting aspect to me is about the multiple levels of abstraction
that are needed to understand the system, which suggests a reflective design;
the impossibility to both run the system and examine it at the same time
rather suggests the involvement of linear types in a proper modelization
of the human system.
> I have often wondered
> if this doesn't make it the ideal medium for the distribution of software
> in a world that doesn't respect intellectual property once it's been "let
> out of the bag".
Indeed, when the software is free (of rights), it becomes unavoidable
to acknowledge that the real value lies in the human beings
who understand the software, and that _humans_ constitute the real
asset of a software company; I saw a guy from AdaCore <gnat.com>
who did insist on that when describing their business model.
This is a real upward reevaluation of programmer labour value;
so again, developers will _benefit_ from free software
rather than lose from it.
>> so there's nothing we can do, and we should think about real problems.
>> On the other hand the unavailability of source of computer software
>> is _not_ a fact of nature; it _is_ a problem, and it can be solved.
> This is not a "problem", it is a problem solution in search of a problem.
> I'm very skeptical of problems defined in terms of:
> Problem: There is no x.
> Solution: Make an x.
Only that's not the way the problem is defined.
I've now too longly _argued for_ the availability of sources.
You may not be convinced by my arguments,
but please at least don't caricature my position!
> And can you explain why if I thought myself
> even remotely valuable I would share [my sources] with you?
If you're considering yourself as an intellectual property dealer,
then indeed, freedom will bring you no direct benefit;
just like the abolition of slavedom did no direct good to slave owners;
just like the regulation of pollution does no direct good to owners
of polluting industries; just like democracy does no direct good
to former dictators. But in as much as you are an intellectual-property
dealer, you may rot in hell that I wouldn't care. The world will
get rid of you, just like it is getting rid of its former oppressors.
Consider that from a "rights" analysis, or from an "effects" analysis,
it's all the same, for any argument is valid in one analysis
if and only if it has an isomorphic correspondant in the other one.
Now, if you're considering yourself as an author,
pray tell me what wrong will be done to you that your works are spread?
It is a wierd author who writes not to be read,
who makes music not be listened, who makes programs not to be run.
Not that it isn't your right to choose not to publish your works;
but again, pray tell me what wrong it does you that they be widely published?
> Wouldn't that just allow you to make more of me or rogue variants
> of me that compete with me?
Only if you consider that have a worthless mind,
and that anyone could do as good as you at providing services.
I pity whomever may justifiably fear such competition!
If free software can help such people leave programming,
and find an activity that suits them better,
it alone will be a great contribution to mankind!
> And wouldn't that just diminish my ability to say unique and interesting
> things that people enjoyed reading, because a bunch of pitman-wannabes
> would be out there generating syntactically similar tripe that made it hard
> to find the "good stuff"?
No. Firstly, because freedom to copy, modify, and redistribute software is
specifically NOT freedom to pretend or imply that one is the author,
when one isn't. That's fraud by my book, and is or should be subject
to the most severe prosecution. Secondly, if you have talent to say
really original things that wannabees can't say, then it's an opportunity
to make money with this talent, by selling the mindshare you can gather.
If you're not making money with this talent, then you have nothing
to lose at other people copying you. And if you don't have such talent,
it's a blessing if free information motivates you to shut your mouth.
All in all, in as much as finding good stuff is a valuable service,
free information encourages fulfillment of that service
through a free market.
> I just don't see the motivation.
Of course you do see the motivation.
Or else you wouldn't be posting in a public forum.
You'd be keeping your precious "trade secrets" in a safe,
protected from anyone seeing them,
and trying how to make money out of it. But you're not.
> And motivation is what it all comes down to.
Aren't you happy when your works are used by everyone?
When mistakes you make are benevolently fixed?
When people learn to appreciate and respect you?
When this respect and appreciation lead to your services being valued a lot?
When you went to school, didn't you freely publish technical reports?
Weren't these technical reports essentially free software
that run on wetware instead of hardware?
Didn't they both spread your ideas and demonstrate your value?
Isn't the very essence of schooling the fact of improving yourself
thanks to others, and of demonstrating your capacities?
Well, free software is like that, too. Sometimes, you write it as
part of selling services; sometimes, you spend your own resources on it,
and it's some advertisement for your services and some infrastructural
investment for them too.
> Because if you don't motivate
> me with whatever scheme you make up, I'll go back to hoeing corn in the
If computer programming was truly an art that lived by sole racket,
and that no one would ever be willing to support without being forced
by property barriers, then it would be a benefit to wipe it.
And we will be richer for every part of computer programming
that disappears when intellectual property is abolished.
But I'm convinced that computer workers _do_ deliver useful services,
that there is an infinite supply of computer services to deliver,
and that free software removes the barriers that prevent flow of services.
As a consequence, I'm not worried at all about abolition of
intellectual property, as far as software creators are considered.
Oh, by the way, I am a software creator (or so I believe).
> At least that will put food on the table. I have no obligation
> to you or anyone to even make any software at all, much less give it away
> the instant I make it.
Of course not. Which is precisely why you will get _paid_
for developing software, whether that software be free or proprietary
after you deliver it.
Freedom transforms difficulty into opportunity, danger into responsibility.
"Protection" transforms difficulty into oppression, danger into catastrophe.
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[ Reflection&Cybernethics | Project for a Free Reflective Computing System ]
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of
exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea,
which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to
himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the
possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.
Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because
every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me,
receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his
taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should
freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual
instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been
peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like
fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any
point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical
being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then
cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.