Subject: Re: RFC
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 10 Jul 2001 14:43:39 -0700

Valden Longhurst <> writes:

> I am told this is a place to post open-source comments and get feedback.  I 
> have been watching the comments for the past week or so and am a little 
> sceptical if this really is the place.  However, I'm not sure where else to 
> get a wider range of feedback other than friends and aquaintences.  
> Therefore, I'm going to post it here in hopes I am not "off-topic" and that 
> none think it rude of me.

This is the Free Software Business list.  Anything related to making
money from free software is probably on-topic.  Other messages are
probably not.

> Though some of this may seem a re-hash of things all here know, I plan to 
> show my comments to others who are more ignorant on the subject.  If you have 
> suggestions or editorial comments, then please let me know of them.  I hope 
> to refine this before I present it elsewhere.

It's hard to give comments without a clear idea of who the audience is
and what their interests are.  Your family?  Your boss?  Slashdot?  A
newspaper editorial?

> May I define two concepts?

My freshman writing tutor taught me years ago to always avoid writing
this type of rhetorical question.  It invites the negative response in
the reader's mind.  Rhetorical questions can be appropriate when you
do not know the answer, or when the reader may be reliably assumed to
not know the answer and you are about to provide it, or in certain
types of exhortatory messages.  Otherwise, I think it's best to avoid
them unless you really know what you are doing.

> History shows solid, ample evidence that both models create competition 
> while the open-model feeds progress as the closed-model stifles progress. I
> hope not to detract but solidify my position, by providing a few 
> examples. These examples can extend in every facet of life (Government, 
> Education, Society, Art, Economy, etc.). May I detail the value of open-model 
> in the technology facet?: 

Fine, but you only present a positive example, not a negative one.
A commonly presented negative example is forceps:

> Will closed-source companies prohibit, even outlaw open-source? If they are 
> successful, then we have dammed ourselves. "Dam: a barrier built across a 
> flow of technological information impeding progress." It seems some understand
> this.  THIS is where we need to legally and prudently fight. Their strategy 
> to 
> prohibit or otherwise choke the open-model is a direct attack on the core of 
> the open-model--FREEDOM. This is where the real danger lies. We should be 
> concerned with THIS threat. 

I don't worry about free software being outlawed.  A more likely
scenario is market lockin forcing the use of proprietary solutions.
For example, Microsoft's Office monopoly makes it difficult to accept
documents from other people without using Microsoft produces.  Free
software such as StarOffice and the wv library keeps up, but it's a
red queen's race: they have to run pretty hard just to stay in the
same place.

Overall I find the essay a bit scattered and perhaps to some degree
begging the question.  But as I said above, it's hard to comment
without knowing the audience.