Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1999 21:18:42 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rms" == Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

    rms> For those who agree with me that people's views are relevant,
    rms> I think your insistance that you can ignore them in your
    rms> model shows the limits of your model.

It comes as quite a surprise to me that you think I think I can ignore
people's views in the model.  Such a model of free software would have
no value to me personally and very little, if any, professionally.  I
certainly would not have the gall to discuss it at this length on FSB
(or anywhere in public for that matter).  And in any case would have
been submitted and perhaps published many months ago.  And probably
has been for that matter, by consultants in the industry newsletters.

I have not claimed any such thing, certainly not intentionally.  I
have taken some care not to claim it, although evidently that hasn't
communicated itself to you.

I certainly have mentioned in various discussions (in which you may
have participated but I'm not sure) how I would go about incorporating
certain views.  I went out of my way to ask you personally about a
specific view ("domination") which seems quite unnatural to me, but
evidently is important in the community.  I have made a point of
noting that although the preferences of the developer community are
important, I also wish to take into account the differences between
their preferences and those of non-developer users.  Except in
response where people have questioned the results I expect to get
(which I cannot help projecting, and thus make explicit because they
constitute a biasing factor I will have to fight against, and my
audience should be aware of), my primary concern has been to figure
out just what views that I don't understand or feel myself should be
incorporated in the model of developer and user behavior, within the
restrictions of tractibility.

What I claim I can ignore _in_ the model is the psychological process
by which people become convinced of their views.  I will need to
include some ad hoc contagion process to deal with the fact that
people join and leave movements, and that of course will have to be
informed by my understanding of the psychological processes.  The
reason I think economics is an appropriate way to deal with these
issues is precisely that I will be forced to make such an ad hoc
specification in a simple way that you, or any layman, can understand
and criticize.  (Which would not be true if I used a psychological
model; you'd have to get an expert to evaluate the nuances of that.)

_That_ is that part of the model that any person, and certainly you,
would be in a position to judge.  If you, or any potential user of my
work, finds that acceptable, you can then hope that my ability to
solve the resulting model is not buggy.  (And if it is, it is the
responsibility of me and my professional colleagues to tell you so and
post a correction.)  When you are satisfied with the assumptions and
the calculations, then maybe you'd consider basing actions on the
model results.

Of course, I will not be able to make predictions about movements
which may stem from the free software movement but involve different,
new, views and values.  Does anybody claim such abilities?  But I
don't see that as germane to my purpose, which is specific to the free
software movement.

    rms> But you as expert are not entitled to brush aside fundamental
    rms> issues about what your field can or cannot do, just by
    rms> accusing your non-economist critics of ignorance.

Of course not.  But I still find it hard to accept just how badly you
have misjudged what it is I plan to do, as evidenced by your statement 
about ignoring people's views quoted above.

    rms> But I think the question of what the model could predict was
    rms> a digression in any case, so I have no more to say about it.

I am primarily interested in quantitative evaluation of the benefits
of expanding the use of free software in society; prediction of
certain aspects of the future of the community is absolutely necessary
to that.  What are we digressing from?

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."