Subject: Re: a model of competition between free and proprietary software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 09:12:08 +0900

>>>>> "Steve" == Steve Mallett <> writes:

    >> Packet drivers were a success because I told people about them
    >> every chance I got.

    >> -russ nelson <>

    Steve> Don't forget the biggest variable that can't be factored

Can!  Can!  So there!  :-)

    Steve> into an economic model, but is often a huge influence in
    Steve> the success of anything: dumb luck.

Law of large numbers (the model I referred to above) says that dumb
luck will eventually turn your way.  If you have reason to believe it
will always go against you ... sell short!  Russ is right; persistence
is the key.  That's how 3M does it -- they hire good engineers, but
they're not all geniuses.  They invent often and triage fiercely.
This is subject to economic analysis.

    Steve> More people have had this contribute to their success than
    Steve> they may care to admit or acknowledge.  Thankfully we all
    Steve> tend to have some of it from time to time.

No question.  But even for "first time lucky" chaps, being smart
enough to quit while ahead really increases the odds in your favor.

The point of economics is that people who deal with luck intelligently
will on average do better, control more resources, and make more of
the decisions than those who simply rely on luck.  (Everybody on this
list falls into the former category, even those who deny the utility
of economic analysis -- thus their behavior is nonetheless susceptible
to economic analysis.)

But see my reply to Russ for the limitations.

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