Subject: Re: OpenSources "opensourced"
From: Craig Brozefsky <>
Date: 20 May 1999 21:15:46 -0700

Rich Persaud <> writes:

> At 02:26 PM 5/20/99 , Craig Brozefsky wrote:
> >Yes, I think your view of the problem was indeed too simple.  But I
> >also think that Rich's response was little more than some guy reciting
> >enlightenment mythology at us, far too simple, full of leaps and
> >bounds and more like a sermon than an explanation.
> If there is a leap or bound that you would like explained, please identify 
> it.  Specify the level of detail and authors that you consider 
> authoritative, so I can provide a non-mythological  explanation.

Thanx for the offer.

1. You start with:

	"'Open Source' is about natural selection in computer-encoded
	 knowledge.  Anything propagated by digital bits with a
	 near-zero marginal cost of reproduction."

   I'm not sure where natural selection of knowledge comes into play.
   I can't reconcile it with Dawkin's and memes, and I can't figure
   out how it fits into the rest of the discourse on open source
   software.  The only place I see it fitting is as a rhetorical
   device for framing "open source" in a progressive narrative.

2. Confusion between the idea, and it's expression.  In other words,
   in order to share ideas, and for us to grow as a society, do we
   need to have total malleability of each expression of an idea (the
   text of the essays in Open Sources) or do we need to be able to
   freely use the ideas expressed in those essays.  The distinction
   between the medium and the message is hardly clean, but I think it
   is worth considering here.  It is similar to the distinction
   between what copyright and patent are meant to do.

   Could you explain why it is necessary for us to be able to
   manipulate the texts of these essays beyond what fair use, and
   their present licenses provide us?  In the case of documentation
   for a program, there is a need to keep it up to date with the
   current incarnation of the program, and the actual markup and
   digital representation of the document is important in terms of
   ease of maintenance and malleability.  But these essays are largely
   opinion pieces which are heavily reliant upon the identity of a
   single author (the Larry Wall essay in particular).

3. You say:

	"If at least *one* high-quality provider of IP is open, the
         economic value of being closed is eliminated for every other
         provider of IP in the same contextual space.  Just ask

  Could you give us better evidence of this then an offhand reference
  to Microsoft.  Are you sure it is just *one*.  Even in terms of
  software I can think of several advantages to being closed when
  there are open competitors around.  What is the economic value that
  Sun has while controlling Java that did not disappear when all of
  the free JVMs popped up?

4. You say:
	"Free doesn't generate software revenue. It generates
         mindshare which then drives collateral revenue (training,
         services, software that builds on the free base).

  Free software can generate revenue directly as well.  What are the
  folx at Cygnus doing?

Craig Brozefsky        <>
Less matter, more form!      - Bruno Schulz
ignazz, I am truly korrupted by yore sinful tzourceware. -jb
The Osmonds! You are all Osmonds!! Throwing up on a freeway at dawn!!!