Subject: Re: A few here may have an opinion on this
From: "Benjamin J. Tilly " <ben_tilly@operamail.com>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 00:27:59 +0500

"Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org> wrote:
[...]
> Credibly measuring the value of your product is something you _must_
> do---simply by selling it---if you wish to use a proprietary license,
> and something you _can't_ do if you use a free one.  :-(

I consider this point critical.

There is a strong tendancy to give undue weight to that
which we can readily quantify.  Even when it is known to
be wrong.

For a random instance consider GDP as a measure of how
well off we are.  In families with a stay-at-home wife
she does a large amount of work that is not measured in
GDP.  If she gets a job, that work still needs to be
done.  But now that it is being done by McDonalds and
the local daycare center, so it shows up in GDP.  The
work she now does also shows up in GDP.  So tracked
economic activity goes up, and gets pointed to as a sign
that lives are getting better.  However in reality no
more work is getting done, and some products have gone
down substantially in quality.

I believe that open source software lends itself to very
similar measurement artifacts.  There are many benefits
which do not get measured.  They range from projects
started which otherwise could not, to training effects on
people who participate, to unanticipated uses of the
source code speeding up development.  I have seen and
benefited from all 3, I suspect that the same is true of
most here.  But none of those benefits show up directly
in GDP, none are readily quantifiable, and all are far
too easy to discount.

Cheers,
Ben
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