Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 12:06:53 +0900

>>>>> "ben" == Benjamin J Tilly <" <ben_tilly@operamail.com>> writes:

    ben> Ah.  So the secret to succeeding in business is to be just
    ben> shy of omniscient so that you can figure out everything about
    ben> the market before anyone else does?

Yes.  That's why I want definitions and boundaries, as crutches for
those of us who are merely mortal.

    ben> Indeed there are some very well known people who have written
    ben> a lot of free software who don't believe that it is an
    ben> ethical issue in the slightest.

What can I say?  They're wrong, at least in the context of FSB.  Free
software is potentially an improvement for everyone in society, if we
can solve the incentive problems.  If you live in society, and all
businesses do, by definition, you are ethically obligated to consider
free software because of those benefits.  You're not required to harm
yourself to implement it, of course.

The fsb mailing list IMO is about describing how software businesses
can do The Right Thing without harming themselves, as the proprietors
themselves see "harm"---no exclusion of either lifestyle or pure-
profit-oriented FSBs.  And about advocacy, because the a priori
arguments for impossibility of FSB are pretty plausible.  Ie, "a
moment's reflection shows FSB can't work" is (absent advocacy) an
ethically acceptable (to me, anyway) amount of consideration.

    ben> Tell them that if you use free software, then you are a free
    ben> software _consumer_.  I don't see the problem.

*shrug*  You don't want to.[1]  Fine.  I have a specialized need (as a
working economist) for a strict definition.  I have already advocated
that a strict definition has pragmatic and ethical benefits for
FSBers, and having said that, I'll let it rest.  (Well, something will
appear on http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp/Tools/Attitude/, most
likely early next week, but that's just "attitude".  :-)


Footnotes: 
[1]  Hint: you've just excluded GNU/Linux/Apache/Perl-based ISPs,
which several of the fuzzy-definition advocates want to include.

-- 
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
 My nostalgia for Icon makes me forget about any of the bad things.  I don't
have much nostalgia for Perl, so its faults I remember.  Scott Gilbert c.l.py