Subject: Re: [Freesw] Re: FreeDevelopers
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 21:04:35 +0900

CC list pruned.

>>>>> "Ton" == TonStanco  <TonStanco@aol.com> writes:

>  > [http://FreeDevelopers.Net/company/CommCo/]  Can you support that? Even
>  > someone who supports non-GPL free software has to like the idea of 
>  > replacing proprietary to leave the whole industry to free software.

>  [ben laurie - Ton, why don't you get a real MUA and learn how
>                the big boys conduct threads?]:
>  Indeed, but why would I support an organisation that advocates an
>  approach I don't believe in?

    Ton> Because it will achieve the goals you believe in.

Would be nice, but you proceed to explain why it cannot achieve those
goals:

    Ton> Proprietary has a huge advantage because it buys its
    Ton> supporters (developers, lawyers, politicians,
    Ton> etc.). Free software has a hard time even finding
    Ton> support among itself,

This is _not_ an accident.  "Economic man", interested only in dollars
(euros, yen, whatever), has an _enormous_ advantage in setting goals,
planning implementations, and recognizing mistakes in time to change
course and win (by his standard).  A labor union disguised as a free
software marketing collective just can't be nimble enough to compete
with "economic man."  Fortunately ...

    Ton> And if we lose at this point, how do we topple proprietary
    Ton> after it is fully ensconced in an interconnected world with
    Ton> network effects?  This is not the time for inaction.

Sure it is.  Because _we can't lose_.  Short of the totalitarian
bogeyman [skirting Godwin's Law, here!] you invoke.  As long as our
thoughts are free[1], we'll program, for fun and profit.  We're all
monkeys, in the end; _fun_ will get us every time.  AS RMS pointed out
so many years ago, programming itself is fun, and sharing programs is
more fun.  Free software isn't going to go away.  I doubt proprietary
will go away for a long long time---but it will go first.

"Economic man" can't win out over people having fun, you know.
Because in the long run, money is only a means to fun.  Even Bill
Gates has lost interest in just making money; he's now falling over
himself trying to "put it to good use."

What does this have to do with FSB?  Well, businesses can be vehicles
for fun, too.  And FSBs provide more opportunities for their workers
to do well while having fun than almost anything I can imagine (more
than being a professor---which ain't bad, but I'm trying to get out of
this place!)  Also, they're conducive to sole proprietor/partnership
organization, which both enhances the fun and lessens the importance
of profit pressure.  Not to mention that FSBs "do good" by creating,
distributing, and enhancing the reputation of, free software.

Steve "Dr. Economics" Turnbull


Footnotes: 
[1]  OK, there is a problem here: software patents _are_ dangerous.
But we don't need a FS developers' labor union to deal with that, and
it wouldn't be very effective in that role anyway.

-- 
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