Subject: Re: low signal
Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 12:07:16 -0400

Chris Maeda writes:
 > I propose we change the format.  Authors
 > should assume that they are pitching to investors;
 > don't tell me how you wish the world was different,
 > tell me how you are going to make money for your
 > investors in this world.

While narrowing the remit of this list that far may be good for the
health of the list as a whole, it seriously limits my interest in it.

In particular it limits the list to entrepeneurs and would-be
entrepeneurs in businesses based on free software.  I am neither.
Instead I am an employee in a small company in a niche financial
market that uses free software tools in our infrastructure.  My
interest is in understanding where free software is going, where it is
strong, where it is weak, and how we can use it in our strategies.

I am not interested in only hearing a series of proposals from people
looking for angel funding.  (Though serious proposals would not be
amiss.)  Nor am I interested in asking for funding myself.  First of
all I don't have a position to make such requests for my company.
Second we are already funded.  Third we are making a healthy (and
growing) profit.  And last of all we have been told in no uncertain
terms that if we spot opportunities requiring resources beyond our
current means, we need only ask for more.

Clearly venture funding is not a reason for me to be here.

So why am I here?

Well first of all we do rely on open source tools (Perl, Apache,
Linux, etc) and therefore it is important to keep track of where those
tools are going, what ways we can most effectively make use of them,
and what directions we should watch out for.

Second, we have ongoing platform decisions to make.  My recent
point about how using minority languages interacts with the
effectiveness of open source was not an idle question.  We are
considering changing our ongoing internal development to another
language (likely Common Lisp), how would that change our interactions
with the open source communities?  (Probably negatively.)

And a third consideration is how we can use open source strategies in
our business.  For instance our business depends on our data
management.  That leaves us with classic problems from having to take
data from many people, in many formats, clean it, load it, and then
redistribute it.  One of the things that we are looking at is the
question of what kinds of tools and services we can create and promote
upstream of us to get better standardization and quality on our
incoming data.  At least some of those tools are likely to be open

Now are those topics appropriate for the list?  I think that they are.
Certainly my thinking about them has been helped by discussions here.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't think that this is the right place for
lengthy arguments about how the world should be different, or rants
about how people should behave.  Nor do I want to see this devolve
into endless flame wars about licensing, editors, Microsoft, or any
other simplistic hot button topic.  This should be a high signal
forum on ways that free software mixes with business models in the
real world.