Subject: Re: freedom and human kindness (was Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software)
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 20:18:51 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Bernard" == Bernard Lang <> writes:

    Bernard> On Mon, Nov 08, 1999 at 01:13:27PM +0900, Stephen
    Bernard> J. Turnbull wrote:

    >> >>>>> "Bernard" == Bernard Lang <> writes:

    Bernard> Given the (naturally monopolistic) structure of the
    Bernard> software market (at least where
    Bernard> infrastructure/commodities are concerned),

    >> Please don't use the term "natural monopoly" to refer to
    >> software where I can hear it---it confuses me.  :-)  It is not a
    >> natural monopoly in the technical economics sense

    Bernard> Let me stand by what I say (thought I had not thought it
    Bernard> out in the technical sense you attach to the term):

That's up to you; I'm flexible.  Well, I try, but not perfectly, as my
recent exchange with RMS goes to show.  I thought I was taking some
care to not assume that he understood technical economics, but ended
up falling into that trap anyway.

Furthermore, as far as I know I'm the only economist to make that
distinction consciously at the moment (I'll have to check Varian and
Shapiro again, and the other usual suspects, but I thought software
_was_ a natural monopoly in that sense until my discussion with Ben
Tilly and/or Karsten Self).  I'll guarantee that using it evokes
garbage "analysis" (as a reflex) from any economist who is not a
specialist in software issues, and probably from a lot who are, too.

It's up to you, of course, but it's like calling a string a "list of
characters" in front of a Lisp programmer.

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