Subject: Re: FW: Why would I pay for Ximian software?
From: Tom Lord <lord@regexps.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 18:06:07 -0800 (PST)



       Scott writes:

       So, when someone suggests that you should pay a "license fee" for the
       ability to use Ximian software or any software " because you are a
       member of civil society" makes me chuckle.  In my opinion, a more civil
       society would freely share their intellectual property, rather than
       restrict and charge for it.

One of us mis-understands something.

So far as I know, Ximian's software _is_ freely shared.  Fees are
charged for particular distribution media only.

Those media may be slightly more convenient than others, but I think
the original question ("why should I pay for Ximian software")
suggests that the value of that convenience is much less than the
price being asked for, at least for Kevin, who posed the question.

Why, then, pay in excess of the value of convenience?  Because Ximian
acts as a steward for the software they distribute and their
effectiveness is constrained, in part, by how much money they make.

In the future, a faster, cheaper Internet and affordable, distributed
publication-on-demand of printed manuals may make boxed sets and
premium bandwidth completely ridiculous.  Improvements in installation
processes and software quality will make the need for support rare.
Yet the usefulness of maintaining stable software, adding new features
based on aggregated demand, and experimentally developing innovative
new software will remain.  As Kevin said:

	Of course maybe I should just buy some of their T-Shirts :)

Or certificates with holographic stickers.  Or just an entry in
a Ximian database of "people who have paid us".

Personally, I think it would be more rational to increase, rather than
decrease the cost of the ancillary merchandise while simultaneously
increasing its (indirect) relevance to the quality of Ximian software
and decreasing its direct relation to that software:

Buy studio time or promotional services for Ximian-sponsored musicians
(they'll send you email with hyper-links to recordings).  Buy some
computer-based wall-art by Boston-based artists to replace those
(de-)motivational posters from Office Depot.  Buy some pretty and
challenging brain-teaser sculptures.  Buy some independent,
peer-reviewed scientific research into the ecosystems of the Charles
River and Boston Commons (perhaps involving elementary and
middle-school students as the field researchers who count bugs and
leaf shoots): you get pre-prints of the articles.  Now *that's*
schwag.

Link the various freely-redistributable intangible goods industries
together, obtain ample financial bandwidth from those that serve the
customers with deepest pockets (and have the least susceptibility to
psychological motivations for being free riders -- e.g. medium to
large corporations), and regionalize and personalize the redirection
of some of that bandwidth to individual content developers who, more
or less, serve the general public.  Why?  Software that comes from a
city with a flourishing and diverse culture will tend to be of a
higher quality (by many metrics) than software that comes from a
ghost-town containing nothing but office parks, coffee-shop franchises,
and t-shirt presses.  Not that I have anything against a good
coffee-shop or t-shirt press.

-t