Subject: Re: anti/Law (an attempted explaination)...
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 19:14:17 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "kms" == Karsten M Self <> writes:

    kms> "Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:

    >> I couldn't have put it better myself.  Whose side are you on,
    >> here?

    kms> As I already explained to Michael, Andy brought me in as a
    kms> hired antagonist.  Unfortunately, I volunteered, so the pay
    kms> stinks.

Oh, OK.  But I understood that as specific to _Andy_, not a general
role.  I'll try to not respond more appropriately in the future ;-)

    kms> Is there a possible viable market for OSS businesses based on
    kms> the principles of hucksterism and PT Barnum?  Probably on the

Of course there is.  But if it's going to be based on the standard
analysis, as you say, it won't be big enough and mainstream enough for
our purposes.[1]

    kms> fringe, but not for the mainstream.  Also conflicts strongly
    kms> with Greg Nelson's principles of trust, etc.

That depends on what exactly you're selling.  If it's OSS brotherhood, 
that may very well provide a decent wage for a few, without violating
anybody's sense of honor.  Some people think that this is a
substantial component of Red Hat revenues.

    kms> If we can boil two threads into one, I think we're on our way
    kms> to establishing two ways in which the market does NOT set
    kms> prices:

    kms>  - The market does not set prices on the basis of cost of
    kms> production.
    kms>  - The market does not set prices on the basis of percieved
    kms> consumer value.

Urk.  I don't like that formulation at all, for academic/political
reasons.  It plays right into the strength of the "just pricers'"

    kms> Rather, the market interprets a number of factors, generally
    kms> boiled down to supply and demand.  Costs help define the
    kms> supply curve, percieved value helps define the demand curve.

Rather, cost _properly defined_ (ie, marginal cost) determines supply
behavior (Microsoft is a price setter and therefore does not have a
"supply curve" in the Econ 101 sense).  Symmetrically, perceived value
_properly defined_ (marginal willingness-to-pay) determines demand
behavior (typically a demand curve in the shrink-wrap market, but
often the buyer side of a bilateral monopoly relationship in custom/
consulting type markets).

    kms> Other factors influence and mitigate.

    kms> ...and I didn't even find a good place to insert my story of
    kms> IBM mainframe pricing structures and NOPS codes....

Chomp!  Ow, that morsel had a HOOK in it.  Personal mail to me would
be acceptable if you can't bring yourself to post it.  :-)

[1]  Pace RMS.  I've mentioned developer-developer and buyer-developer
network externalities before; I think this is an extension to the
conventional analysis of Shapiro and Varian that (a) "explains" Linux
and (b) predicts that Linux-like projects will occur repeatedly in the 
future.  I estimate that this is still not as big as we would like in
one sense, and probably does not provide a living for very many
developers in another.

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