Subject: Re: the value chain
From: <>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 10:31:01 -0800

On Fri, Dec 10, 1999 at 10:44:51AM -0500, Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
>    Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 15:12:01 +0100
>    From: Bernard Lang <>
>    Service is important, but you do not become rich on service ... you
>    have to feed people.
>    The way to be rich, like the robber baron of the middle-age, or more
>    recent times, is to control an important passageway and to force
>    everyone to pay toll.
> But, as people often point out, lawyers become rich purely on service.
> Their data is free to all.

Look specifically at what sorts of lawyers become rich at what sorts of
service.  When I asked a lawyer about this, the response was that the
big money was in liability law, in the form of contingency fees.  While
it's possible to make a decent living in other areas of law, they
apparently don't come close.

So one question becomes -- is there anything involving the software
business which is like contingency fees -- essentially, somebody else's
money (not yours, not the client's), which you can glom on to?
Transaction fees (Crispin's road toll) come to mind. 

> A lawyer must pass the bar exam in order to practice law in front of a
> court (at least in the U.S.), but most lawyer's work is not in court,
> and could, in principle, be done by anyone.

In principle, but highly restricted in practice.  Nolo Press is or has
been being sued in the state of Texas for illegal practice of law -- for
publishing self-help legal texts.  The term "attorney at law" itself
means that the subject has passed some legal standard to become
enbarred.  It's possible to become legal counsel by other means, IIRC,
if someone is specifically granted power of attorney, in which case a
different phrase applies.  I don't recall what it is, something like
"attorney at foo".  

Point being, that until calling oneself a computer programmer or "software
engineer" requires some sanctioned, legally recognized certification
process, there are some significant differences between the professions.
Note that the term "software engineer" is restricted in some areas
because engineers must also be certified, usually by state boards.

> Legal data has become too complex to understand through the accretion
> of centuries (and some would say deliberate obfuscation).  Computer
> programs start out too complex to understand.
> I think it's hard to become rich controlling data you don't create
> yourself.  Information wants to be free.

John Perry Barlow.  Yes.  It wants to be free, but does it *have* to be
free?  There's a dynamic at work, and the flipside is that information
creators (content providers) and managers (vendors) want information to
generate revenue.  Striking a balance is key.  I don't disagree with
Barlow's point, but I would add something to it.

> Ian

Karsten M. Self (
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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