Subject: Re: contra-ESR and the principle of infinite exploitation
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 24 Dec 1998 17:31:10 -0000

Ian Lance Taylor writes:
 > I don't see that eliminating the transaction cost of distributing the
 > software is all that exciting to a business, since you are
 > simultaneously eliminating the profit per distribution.

I think the most cogent point was made by the late Robert
F. Cotellessa: "You give away your software to create a demand for
your services."

The way *I* look at it is that IT has a certain budget.  I can't think
of any IT manager who would willingly reduce the size of his
responsibility -- to *want* to spend less on software.  Therefore, the
same amount of money is going to be chasing computer products and
services.  If there are no software products, but instead only
hardware products and software services, the money is still gonna get

It's not "build it and they will come," it's "they're already there,
they're already buying, now make them better products and services."
In general, if something is better, people buy more of it.  So really, 
the way to increase IT budgets is to increase the efficacy of
software.  Open source software promises to do just that.

The only thing is, today's software-as-product companies are not going
to be the ones to do it.  They'll have to become us, or become
assimilated by us.  Bwahahahahaha!

 > You can get the same improvement for feedback by distributing
 > proprietary software in source code form.  The open nature of the
 > software is only slightly relevant.  In any case, that only works for
 > software whose customers are developers.

All customers are potentially developers.  "Hey Jimmy, your nephew,
he knows how to program -- can he fix this damn thing?"

 > Of course.  I was replying to the topic ``should business embrace open
 > source?'' not ``is open source good?''  It is possible that eventually
 > open source will be, in practice, required, but we are not there yet.

Agreed.  I think it's inevitable.  The only way to stop it would be
some kind of legislation protecting the profits of programmers.
That's not how it would be pitched, of course, but instead as the
"Omnibus Software Consumer Protection Act of 2001".

-russ nelson <>
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