Subject: Re: Software as a public service
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Sat, 14 May 2005 21:26:55 +0900

>>>>> "Santiago" == Santiago Gala <> writes:

    >> The correct statement is that "any given program, once written,
    >> is no longer scarce, under the assumptions of perfect
    >> information about its nature and availability, and zero
    >> communication and storage costs."

    Santiago> We are speaking here of programs that a contractor wrote
    Santiago> for a public admin.

I'm sorry, we're not.  We're speaking of a system in which contractors
hope to continue to deliver programs to customers who do not yet have
them.  If you want to restrict discussion to programs that have
already been written and delivered, fine.  But not on FSB!

    Santiago> i.e. I would like to leave the judgement about how close
    Santiago> we are to perfect information to the market,

It's obvious from the enormous profitability, not to mention the
pervasive misinformation, of the marketing industry that we are as
close to perfect information as we are to perfect morality.

    Santiago> OTOH, communication and storage costs are going to zero
    Santiago> really fast (see gmail 1->2 gigs move and the April 1st
    Santiago> joke that Google did as a clever example)

Those aren't the relevant costs.  The cost of communication these days
is dominated by the wage of the listener.  (If it weren't, spam would
be a non-issue.)

    Santiago> This is precisely where the overall/public gain is
    Santiago> coming: companies that don't properly care about their
    Santiago> knowledge processes will be blown away very fast by
    Santiago> other companies and individuals, and we would see a much
    Santiago> more dynamic market than we are seeing.

"Schumpeterian creative destruction."  Schumpeter was a BS artist on a
par with Lord Keynes.[1]  He may have been right, but this is hardly an
uncontroversial argument.

And if you're right, it's not just the knowledge processes.  It's the
whole business process; you turn the IT sector into even more of a Red
Queen's race than it already is.  I already live in Japan; I don't see
that as a humane prospect.

BTW: You realize that the economy you're talking about would probably
give the Bill Gateses of the world an ever greater advantage over the
rest of us?

    Santiago> To say it in other words: if you are right and the four
    Santiago> assumptions are not true, companies would not be more
    Santiago> and more concerned about using IP laws to protect their
    Santiago> contracts... (reductio ad absurdum coming)

Nonsense.  I didn't say the costs were high and getting higher, I said
they were positive.  When you criticize my argument because "software
is not scarce", you are implying those costs are zero, to however many
decimal places a Microsoft accountant can pinch a penny.  The burden
of proof is on you.

[1]  BS worthy of Nobel Prizes, had they lived long enough, of course!

School of Systems and Information Engineering
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.