Subject: Re: Open Source shareware?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 14:13:47 +0900

>>>>> "Rich" == Rich Morin <rdm@cfcl.com> writes:

    sjt> the "I don't understand why money doesn't rain into my lap;
    sjt> isn't it obvious that that would be good for everybody?" 
    sjt> approach we've seen an extended example of recently.

    Rich> I actually have quite a bit of sympathy for that position;
    Rich> I'd love to be supported so that I could simply work on my
    Rich> research interests.  I even think it would be a good
    Rich> investment for the community.

Don't we all!  There are two reasons why "sympathy" is as far as this
goes.  The UNimportant one is that the "I" in the above paragraph
might be overestimating her or his ability.

The important one is that the "I" in that paragraph is _singular_, by
definition _not_ representative (except by sheer accident).  The most
effective way we know to elicit an accurate estimate of the potential
social value of a product is ... make the customers pony up _real_
money.  An "entreprenuer" is simply someone willing to bet that she's
"representative enough" (or a good guesser about what people not "like
her" think), and persuasive enough to convince an investor.  But it's
not a good bet---that's why such investors are called "adventure
capitalists."

    Rich> In short, there are a lot of raw materials on the servers,
    Rich> but not too many finished products (in Mac terms).

Of course.  My bet is that it won't take long to get some finished
products out there (the Carbonized version of the 800 lb gorilla of
OSS apps, GNU Emacs, is already drawing rave reviews from a --
admittedly small -- subset of Mac users).

    Rich> If someone comes along with a client they like better and
    Rich> want to use the server, more power to them (as long as they
    Rich> subscribe :-).

If you "wish" that, it's open.  If you enforce it, it's proprietary.

    Rich> When an author researches a program to write a book on it,
    Rich> you don't hear people complaining.

When a bank sells their email addresses to the spammers, you sure do.
When Prodigy or Microsoft "reaches out and touches" their Windows
registries or IE bookmarks, you sure do.  When AOL or Amazon sells on
what they're learned from their click trails, you sure do.

That's why the Bitkeeper example is interesting.  The only difference
between that and the preceding paragraph is an explicit clause in the
license.  It is very interesting that a fair number of people are
willing to accept it; it would be interesting to know how many people
reject it for that reason (but that's hard to know).


-- 
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