Subject: Re: business case for mechanized documentation
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2006 14:25:15 +0900

I'm going to specifically ignore your general comments on organization
of R&D as off-topic for this list, much as I'd like to discuss them.
Suggestions for a more appropriate venue (or some assurance that this
is an appropriate venue after all :-) are welcome!

>>>>> "Thomas" == Thomas Lord <lord@emf.net> writes:

    Thomas> What about new things, like Rich's, that specifically
    Thomas> don't have an immediate customer application?  CASE tools,
    Thomas> fundamental libraries, etc.

    Thomas> I don't think it follows that, just because these things
    Thomas> don't have a compelling, direct customer application they
    Thomas> are therefore something these firms won't or shouldn't
    Thomas> invest in.

Of course I agree.  Nevertheless, for a business, there needs to be a
_capturable_ benefit, and such benefits are all the more elusive with
free software.  Finding a capturable benefit is what we mean by
"business model," I think.

    Thomas> When we get to particulars, in the sense you mean, we are
    Thomas> no longer talking about innovation -- we're talking about
    Thomas> execution.

Exactly.  As Kelly Andersen wrote me (off-list) in a somewhat
different context, it (undisciplined innovation) worked for DNA!
Execution does require discipline, and (in some sense) that discipline
is what is appropriate for discussion here.  IMO YMMV of course.

I think what we want to talk about is not why IBM and Sun and Red Hat
should fund Rich and Tom, Dick and Harry as a general paradigm, but
how Rich can sell his project to one or more of the above, or to a
consortium.

If you think you can find a capturable benefit in the kind of
systematic support of free software innovation you describe, by all
means do so, and put together a project to appropriate some of that
capturable benefit.  But the more abstract, the harder it gets, as you
lose sight of the particulars.

    Thomas> As things stand, if Rich loses, a valuable abstract
    Thomas> approach may be needlessly delayed.

Entrepreneurs don't deal in the abstract.  I have my questions about
Rich's approach, but one thing I'll grant it unconditionally: it's
lightyears closer to Success than the Nothing I've offered.  Ie,
entrepreneurs should _not_ deal in the abstract.

IMHO, the best way to ensure that any "valuable abstract approach"
doesn't get needlessly delayed is to help Rich to make the biggest
splash possible; preferably a successful one, but failing that, a big
one. :-)


-- 
Graduate School of Systems and Information Engineering   University of Tsukuba
http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp/        Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
        Economics of Information Communication and Computation Systems
          Experimental Economics, Microeconomic Theory, Game Theory