Subject: Re: Microsoft may publish some source code
From: Jean Camp <Jean_Camp@harvard.edu>
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 11:15:47 -0400


> > Whenever I am asked to describe a Free Software Business model it is
> > assumed that the model is not viable or worthwhile if it is not some
> > analog of the shrink-wrap software business.  If I describe a service
> > based model, or something else which does not center on the
> > manufacturing of a discreet shrink-wrap product, a common response is
> > hand-waving about how it's not viable in the 'real world'.

I find this response both common and ironic.  It is usually easily cleared
up by making the comparison to cell phones and "Free" PC's.  Certainly PC's
and real time audio communication are commodities, as is free software.
The most effective business model for some market segments have proven to
be free stuff + service contract. People who clearly understand that you
can give away manufactured goods with respectable ROI can understand that
one can give away software with the same model. Once you adjust their basic
anchoring problem the business model will be clear.

on Acid Test:
>Lewis claims that the open-source community admits
>               that its organizational structure is weak.
This objection to open code honestly makes me laugh. Yeah, it is also true
that GrameenPhone and AT&T are not too closely and tightly linked. A group
of people using the same business model do not need to be organized for the
business model to be valid.   All the coffee shop owners are not too
organized either: they are sharing a business/organizational model, they
don't need a Pope.

It seems to me the business model and the basic social organizational
theory come together in open code. These two threads are not so tightly
woven with other  good/service pricing models.  Thus people reject the
tried and true business model in software because they want to object to
the greater transparency and distributed control that is inherently linked
to applying the commodity/service business model to software.

Open code would be efficient and allow coming structural changes to happen
more quickly. I believe that corporate leaders embrace closed code because
it is inefficient, it slows the rate of structural change.  It simplifies
control. Closed code hides information. People choose closed code for the
same reason they choose other forms of disinformation and control
technologies: fear and ignorance.

I am more concerned with the governance model.  Even in theory the free
market runs only with full information.  The greater governance issue is
the lack of debate and the lack of choice. Now I mean governance and not
government because market mechanisms function as governance too.
Governance creates order and allows choices. Hey, did we all enjoy the
debate about creating a perfect surveillance network with MS word unique
identifiers? Should this not be subject to open debate, to open consumer
choice? The greater question to me is, What price property?

-Jean