Subject: Re: Paper on dual licensing
From: Tom Lord <lord@emf.net>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 15:36:03 -0800 (PST)



       >> I'm not sure whether this is a serious question.  Obviously
       >> the answer is yes.  Most people care only whether software
       >> solves their problem.

       > The Free Software idea has some things in common with
       > environmentalism, in terms of the difficulty in gaining
       > "traction" over "convenience for me" with the populace...


Free software licensing is, for most users, a purely theoretical
advantage of no practical consequence.

For some users, in current practice, it's a way to get away without
paying programmers: so it is actually bad for the software ecology.

So the challenge before us, is to make the theoretical value of libre
licensing into a practical, ecologically sane value.  
mean?

	A "practical value" means that:

	1) customers directly benefit from it
	2) it's ecologically sensible

Simply lowering "total cost of ownership" satisfies (1), but not (2).
Corporations that concentrate purely on this approach are economic
polluters.

Instituting a "software tax" _arguably_ satisfies (2) (but good luck
implementing it), but I think few users would agree that it does (1)
in any fair way.

What do customers complain about (directly or indirectly)?  What
problems do they have?   


	(1) Everyone disparages the IT industry.  Nobody on the user
	    side (to a first approximation) likes their admins.[*]
	    Nobody on this list (roughly, the software producer side)
	    has much stated respect for what IT departments are doing
	    these days.


	(2) No individual users like their help lines.   None of them
	    like what happens when they get "stuck" -- when their
	    system fails to work correctly or do what they want.


	(3) No users (except for CIOs) thinks to ask for new
            features/programs anymore (again, to a first
            approximation).   The features of software are determined
            by mysterious others -- people are disempowered.


	(4) This isn't a popular complaint: it's mine.  We've deployed
	    too much bad, poorly controlled, poorly understood
	    software systems, too quickly.   What productivity gains
	    we've seen are masking a looming software crisis, when
	    these systems start to reveal their vulnerability and 
	    intractability.


So, one agenda is:

	(A) Completely replace IT departments with outsourced
	    services.  It is important that these services do a 
	    better, friendlier job of interacting with users.

	(B) Do a better job of bringing users into-the-loop for 
	    specing the future.  This is, of course, a
	    marketing/infrastructure challenge: it's also a technology
	    challenge (e.g., which is cheaper to rapidly develop: a
	    new Gnome app, a new Mozilla-based app, or a new Emacs
	    mode)?

	(C) Raise the standards for deployed systems.  Return to 
	    K.I.S.S. principles.


Schematically, my "How to create a gazillion free software jobs...."
plan addresses (A) and (B).   My "process is the solution" rants and
"what I plan to do in my R&D lab" rants speak to (A), (B) and (C).

BTW, I care a lot about the environment but if I ever have money
again, I want to buy a gas-guzzling hummer (but I don't plan to use it
for scooting about town, buying groceries, and such).

"It just wouldn't die..."
-t

[*] "nobody likes their IT dept"

   A fun game is to sit in a bar and chat with strangers who work
   in offices.   The phrase "those guys are jerks" seems to come up
   a lot re IT depts.