Subject: Re: How accurate is Metcalfe's law? (Was: Ximian software)
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 09 Jan 2002 15:18:17 -0800

"Stephen J. Turnbull" <> writes:

> >>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <> writes:
>     Ian> There are some great ideas which have been extensively mined:
> You've got the wrong kind of greatness in mind.  Those are great
> inventions, creating _potential_ social value.  Putting those
> inventions at the service of users (what economists call "innovation")
> is a different kind of idea which programmers give short shrift.

First I say that I don't think there are diamonds in programming.
Then you say, what about Unix?  Then I say, yes, there are few
diamonds, and Unix is one of them.  Then you say, no, that's not what
I meant.

So I don't know what you mean.

Putting an invention at the service of users is exactly what I
intended to do when I wrote my UUCP code, which was free and had
(IMHO) simpler configuration files and better documentation.  The
package was picked up by thousands of users, and is still used today.
I have a hard time calling that a diamond of any sort.  It was neither
invention nor innovation in the sense in which those words are used by
ordinary people.  It was obvious, in the sense I meant in the sentence
which started this whole particular thread (``most good ideas in
software are obvious'').

> If the Mac and MS Windows didn't exist, would KDE and GNOME be
> anywhere near as developed as they are, if they even existed as
> coherent projects?  I doubt it very much.

Who knows?  Isn't this another example of ``free software can't do
X,'' where X goes through ``good compiler,'' ``make a profit,'' ``make
a complete OS,'' etc.?  You may be right, but, in fact, we don't know.