Subject: Re: A few here may have an opinion on this
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 18:52:15 +0900

>>>>> "Kragen" == Kragen Sitaker <kragen@pobox.com> writes:

    Kragen> Most nontechnical people I know who use computers use them
    Kragen> for email and web browsing; without free software, they
    Kragen> wouldn't, because no email or Web would exist.

As we know it, sure.  But before the Internet there was BITNet and
DECNet, etc.  Novell and NetBIOS coexisted for quite a while, too
(still do, AFAIK).  I see no reason to believe that a proprietary
version of the Web couldn't have become quite successful.  Perhaps
based on everyone's least favorite ISO standard, OSI.  Look at the
success of the (totally proprietary and as technically suck-y as OSI)
i-mode and other cellphone-based net services in Japan.

I think there's little doubt that the Internet is bigger than any
imaginable proprietary network, even OSI-net of proprietary networks,
could have been (look at what happened with long-distance phones when
AT&T was broken up).  But I'm rather sure your statement is false; I
started using email in an exclusively BITNet environment, and last
used a BITNet host for email in summer '93.  I expect that by now we'd
have something comparable to, but rather less efficient than, the
Internet and probably the Web, too.

And of course you're quite right, the "market penetration" would be
dramatically lower.  But you can't attribute the whole value of the
Internet to free software.

-- 
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.