Subject: Source code becoming less important
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 18:41:30 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com> writes:

    Ian> Libre software, as I understand it, also requires a mechanism
    Ian> for changing the source code and running the changed version.

Yes, but it doesn't have to be the user who is able to do the changing
and reboots the system to get the benefits, although the technical
definition of libre software demands it.  And I'm not talking about
the "opening the hood of the car" argument, which I fully understand.[1]

For example, Craig mentions his VCRs.  Imagine that on January 3, 2000
(whatever the next business day is) there's an interview with Craig in
the Tech Talk column of the San Jose Mercury News (I am making this
up) where he explains how he called up Sony and explained how to fix
the Y2K bug in the software (I am still making this up) in 1998, even
offering to send in a patch; and in a box on the side the names of a
few companies which got more than 1,000 such calls but somehow never
fixed it, with a photo of bogus date displays in the nearest Circuit
City (you got it, I am still making this up) and a printout of Craig's
diff (I am _still_ making this up).  Even my mother would think that
open source is pretty amazing in that case, if only for comedy value.

Do you think that a few heads of quality control might get fired?  I
do.  :-)  Besides the ever-popular "bazaar peer review effect" there
are probably a lot of ways that available source, if not truly libre
software, could help.  Just because the modify-and-distribute clauses
are not useful doesn't mean that the other clauses can't be applied
without them.

Heck, I can see big institutional investors demanding that firms that
don't depend on proprietary software for revenues GPL any software
they distribute.  Hm?  Try suggesting that the next time you attend a
shareholders' general meeting.  You think having CalPers and TIAA/CREF 
behind the free software movement wouldn't get attention?  Wow!

End of real content.

    Ian> Do people even bother to repair their cell phones at all?

Not here in Japan.  There's a small industry involved in recycling the
gold in the ICs in cell-phones and pagers, so many of them are left
behind, thrown away, broken, and remaindered every year.  Evidently
the rest of the material is easily stripped away (burned? I dunno)
compared to say a PC or VCR.


Footnotes: 
[1]  I simply assess the costs as higher and the benefits lower than
those who assert that I don't understand.

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."