Subject: Re: small worlds and better than ransom
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Sun, 07 Oct 2007 18:30:40 +0900

Thomas Lord writes:
 > Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
 > >  > Don't you think a little honest exchange of money would be
 > >  > a breath of fresh air?
 > >
 > > No, not in the free software community.  I think if you managed it,
 > > you would immediately be accused of selling out and your judgments
 > > about the needs of your projects would be suspect.
 > 
 > That kind of criticism would only survive the first few rounds
 > of releases of new projects and products.   It is not a sound
 > criticism, especially when the current situation is critically examined.

It doesn't need to be sound, as long as there's evidence of bias.  And
there will be ample evidence, because if prepurchase works at all,
lasting relationships will be created, while people who want you to do
something different will point to the money you're receiving from
frequent customers who want what you were going to do anyway and say
that influenced your decisions.

 > > Anyway, you're not talking about an honest exchange of known values
 > > like money.  You're talking about being paid to do what you think is
 > > important.  You will get money, the universal token of value; it may
 > > not be enough, but you know what you're getting.  But what about the
 > > pre-purchaser?  They are rather unlikely to get what they want on the
 > > schedule they need it.
 > 
 > How do you mean?  All the time people sell fuzzy projects[.]

Sure, but a smart client in most of the examples you gave demands a
lot of control as the project proceeds.

 > People are paid to "do what they do" all the time, under all manner
 > of oversimplified descriptions of the transaction.

Yeah, but most of the examples you gave involve a double dose of the
kind of social norms you seem to detest.

 > That is, my ideal customers are solidly members of what might
 > quaintly be called the enlightenment culture (as we have
 > received it in these times).   Nothing less is at stake.

I have no quarrel with your concept of ideal customer.  My problem is
that I don't see why any of them will consider prepurchasing an ideal
way to spend money, whether from you or from anyone else.