Subject: Re: My Lengthy Harangue (was advice sought (really: fundraiser status))
From: scott capdevielle <>
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 12:23:24 -0700

I think that theme can be generalized to be: transparency in 
organizations are a good thing for everyone but those who profit from 
opaqueness.  You can see this everywhere from software to corporate 
accounting, from drug companies to energy comapnies. 

>On Tue, 2002-07-30 at 10:49, L Jean Camp wrote:
>>But this is not a performance art, or if it is a 0 marginal cost performing 
>Please explain why this is relevant.  He's doin' something and people
>aren't payin' him.  Many people want to do things for which there should
>be financial support, but for which there just isn't.
>I think this list would have less discussion and more sense if there
>were fewer economists on it.  An economist create a lovely, complicated
>explanation of what happens when SW is free, filled with terms with vary
>narrow meaning, like "marginal cost" or "network exterality" or "price
>elasticity".  A non-economist would say "They didn't send me a bill, so
>I'm not paying."   If you don't charge for something, people won't pay
>>From my standpoint, as a practicing engineer with 20 years of
>programming experience, and no years of economic experience, the only
>reason free SW makes sense is that business is not really about profit
>after all.  That is, businesses with more than about 50 employees are
>not about profit.  They are about people carving out territory.  Let me
>give you an example, which is just one of many.
>I once worked for a large PC graphics hardware manufacturer.  They had a
>group in the home office in Toronto which did the 2D driver, and a group
>in Marlboro, MA which did the 3D driver part.  They had an OEM contract
>with one of the big PC houses, but the customer's test application was
>not working on our hardware.  It would run up to a particular point, and
>then hang.  We pretty quickly found out that it hung when we called the
>2D driver to get a buffer.  We told the 2D group it was their problem,
>and they said it was ours, that they weren't going to work on it, and
>that they were not going to give us the source to the 2D driver since it
>was their source, and not ours after all.  The Toronto VP outvoted the
>Ma VP, since he was on site in Toronto with the P.  I spent three weeks
>trying to find the problem, single stepping through assembly language in
>their driver and in the Win95 kernel, making no progress at all.  The
>customer did amazing things to try to be helpful, including overnight
>shipping systems to me.  By overnight I mean they got my mailing address
>at 1900 one evening, and the system was in my office at 0800 the next
>morning. Of course, the VP of engineering was in my cube twice a day,
>and the sales support guy was on the phone every two hours, trying to
>help me. Then one evening, I happened to be talking to another engineer
>by phone to Canada on an unrelated matter, and I mentioned the problem
>to him.  He zipped up the sources, made me swear that I would never
>identify him by name, and mailed them off to me.  Four hours later I had
>the fix, which I was able to mail to them.
>What's the point?  Well, the 2D manager knew that he was in competition
>with the 3D manager.  Only one would be promoted to be director of
>software.  The VP in Mass knew that *he* was in competition with the VP
>in Toronto, and only one would be promoted to whatever it is that VPs
>get promoted to.  The other manager and the other VP would be laid off
>for not performing.  So, the 2D manager had to stifle the 3D manager's
>chances.  The Toronto VP knew that *he* had to stifle the Ma VP's
>chances of succeeding.  So, both combined to make the Ma manager and VP
>fail, even though it might have cost the company a multimillion dollar
>This seems like it might be an isolated case of mismanagement, but I'm
>not so sure.  I went to the graphics company from a VLSI testing
>company.  The software director would not let the hardware engineers see
>the driver sources, even though their cubicles were next to each other
>on the same floor.  I started thinking about it, and in every company I
>have ever worked, there has been some kind of similar situation, where
>one manager decides that it's in his best interest to hobble some other
>managers, even at the expense of corporate goals.  Of course, as we go
>further up, the managers are looking out for their own personal profit
>at the expense of the shareholders and investors, and at the expense of
>the employees.
>So, again, what's the point?  The point is, if the SW is free, and
>released under the GPL for everybody in the world to see, these kinds of
>territorial games are not possible.  That's why free SW is good for
>business, and that's pretty much the only reason as far as I can tell.