Subject: Re: law from the bottom up
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 14:44:38 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "shapj" == shapj  <shapj@us.ibm.com> writes:

    shapj> Until I have seen a better one I will continue to use the
    shapj> best one I have seen to date.  However you may regret it,
    shapj> that word is "viral:"

    shapj> That said, I will gladly adopt more accurate analogies and
    shapj> terms as I become aware of them.  Suggestions are more than
    shapj> welcome.

A much better biological analogy than "virus" is of similar physical
scale: the mitochondrion.

Consider: when a cell reproduces, each of its daughters gets some of
its mitochondria.  Furthermore, it is possible (eg, for Paramecium) to
acquire mitochondria from a different cell, but only by an active
process: sexual reproduction, ie, _deliberately inheriting
characteristics_ from another cell.  The mitochondria hitchhike, as it
were, in the protoplasm used to exchange the genetic material.  The
guarantee of exchanging mitochondria is statistical (they're densely
distributed in protoplasm) rather than part of their makeup, but it is 
a guarantee of propagation.

Finally, the most inaccurate part of this analogy (at the level of the
analogy itself) is the part Richard is going to like best: the cell's
mitochondria are the source of _all_ of its useful energy.  Richard, I
expect, will be more than happy to mix metaphors and consider that the
GPL is the source of energy for software at a social level.

Only problem is that "mitochondrial" is a mouthful.  That is going to
make "marketing" this term difficult.  Too difficult?

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."