Subject: independent consultants.
From: Alessandro Rubini <>
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 18:55:30 +0100

Hi All.
	I appreciated Russel's article on LJ (August '98), but I find
it not thorough enough, altjough it helped me in getting on this list.

I'm now proposing a new article on this subject, and I have a pair of
days left to refine the thing. I'd like to get your opinions on the
points I touch, as I'm not an expert in economics. I think this kind
of topic is on-topic in this list, so I dare posting my points.

The subject matter is "Econimic Viability", and I mainly discuss
viability for independent consultants. Stressing that big companies
exist and are well alive insn't pariticularly impressive, IMHO, as
there are many big companies that rely on proprietary products as

I don't want to be unfair to Russel, if you get this impression is
only because I'm not a native English speaker.

These are the key points, in my opinion:

* Viability for independent consultants

 - Users adapted their need to their software, now they can adapt
	their software to individual needs. Customization requires
	technical people and calls for consultants.
 - Similarly, any program can be enhanced in new directions, and this
	was not even imaginable before free sw was there. Power users
	will ask for their own extensions.
 - More generally, the more things are programmable, the more they get
	programmed. This defeats the possible claim that "companies
	are loosing marketshare and are dismissing employers, this
	is social damage because of free software".
 - Free software allows auto-education of technical people. This means
	that the number of techinicians is virtually unlimited: as soon
	as there is work to accomplish, the market will adapt
 - Standadization of file formats allows for new uses of existing data,
	thus opening positions for system administrators to manage
	asynchronouse handling of existing data.

* Viability for big companies

 - The packaging and distribution work (red hat and others)
 - The "insurance" support contract (idea from this list)
 - If the company want to offer more than others, it can pay
	for development of free software (again, see red hat).

* Viability for schools and university

 - Free OS's are more powerful and tends to ask for more
	administration; while there is no direct economic advantage
	in choosing free software, educational center should be happier
	to pay for people's work than to buy unattended objects.

This shrinkage of the concepts may have distorted some of the ideas,
but I prefer to keep bandwidth low and expand only if needed.  If
someone is interested in the complete article, I can send it via
private email (LJ doesn't allow to redistribute material before it
gets published -- I asked to make an exception: no way).

Hope this message is not considered off-topic or just stupid :) No, I
won't be paid for this article. Yes, I'm going to give credit where
credit is due.