Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 14:03:20 +0900

>>>>> "Adam" == Adam Turoff <ziggy@panix.com> writes:

    Adam> Maybe it means that FSBs are not conducive to producing the
    Adam> Next Big Thing like Sun, Apple, eBay and Dell have.

No.  s/producing/exploiting/.  That is, an FSB producing the Next Big
Thing[tm] shares the market with a million bounders and ends up with
crumbs.

    Adam> It also helps to explain why the talk of successful FSBs has
    Adam> focused on small shops or companies like Amazon, Yahoo! or
    Adam> UUnet that aren't software vendors but rely upon OSS for
    Adam> their business.

This somehow triggered a line of thought, and I now know why I believe
Tim is wrong.  Ie, why I believe that defining FSB, and defining it to
involve _developing_ open source software, is important.

What we are saying at this point is that getting private financing
(which is where the money is; ask any country, including the U.S. or
Japan, faced with the prospect of fighting off George Soros &cie)
seems to be nearly impossible for FS.

So should we concentrate on how many companies use the FS that _is_
produced?  That's minor, minor, minor, as long as FS is drastically
_underproduced_.  And it will be underproduced, because FS is starved
for resources for development.  It will depend on gifts of friends,
family, and the pound of flesh nearest the developer's own heart.  And
that is not enough when weighed against the benefits provided by free
software.

Nor are the companies Tim is lobbying going to suddenly come to their
right minds and start funding gobs of FS development.  They're already
in their right minds, and that's why they _don't_ fund FS development:
it's a net loser for them, even in the long run.

Government support?  Ra-a-aight.  For pure science, where the
scientists basically decide, fine.  For readily commercializable
technology, look at the history of MITI (aka Japan, Inc.)  The big
decisions that they got right were taken by industry or were simply a
matter of concentrating on catching up to the obvious leaders in one
industry or another.  The ones they got wrong are precisely the ones
taken by MITI when the correct technical answer was not obvious.
(According to the Report of Prime Minister Hashimoto's Committee on
Administrative Reform.)

Government support _can_ help.  But it's not a panacea.  More
penetration of FS into the user industries _will_ induce more support
from them for FS.  But not as much is justified by the social
benefits.

So maybe we have to call 1-800-Mephistopheles and try weakening _some_
of the OSD strictures against proprietary licensing, while maintaining
the ones that have the most social benefit.

-- 
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