Subject: Re: economic efficiency of free software
From: Taran Rampersad <cnd@knowprose.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 13:57:15 -0500

Jamie Lokier wrote:

>Taran Rampersad wrote:
>  
>
>>And if they need it badly enough, they need to put their money where 
>>their mouth is.
>>    
>>
>
>You said:
>
>  
>
>>Software is *not* scarce.
>>    
>>
>
>But admit that if you don't pay for it to be created, in some cases it
>won't be.
>
>Is that scarce *by definition*?
>
>If there's a shortage of programmers willing to create the software
>you want, and you have to complete, perhaps by offering money, to
>motivate them to create it, then I would say that the _creation_ of
>that software is scarce.
>
>If there's plenty of programmers who would create the software you
>want, if only they didn't have to deliver pizza and pay the rent,
>_then_ there's a good case for saying the creation of software isn't
>scarce; what's scarce is rent-free accomodation.
>
>(Sorry, I don't know the appropriate terminology: "creation of
>software" isn't a good or a noun, and it's grammatically dubious to
>call it scarce.  It's not correct to say the software itself is
>scarce).
>
>In no case is *software itself* scarce.  There isn't a limited amount
>of software which one person can have or another person can have; only
>the *process of creating software* is like that. 
>
>-- Jamie
>  
>
Err... Yes and no, I'll just clarify myself (not arguing with anyone).

My opinion: The creation of software may be 'scarce', but only because 
people aren't interested in paying for the software as much as they are 
getting it bFree.

For those of us in developing countries, we know that software itself is 
not scarce - whereas licenses are. People have the software for bFree 
through unlicensed proprietary software; software itself is not scarce. 
Creation of software only appears scarce to those who want it bFree. 
There's plenty of programmers out there who would code something.

I know if most people would have put their money where their mouth is, 
I'd probably still be coding for a living. Instead I write and teach, 
there was more of a *paying* demand for these things - but there is not 
sufficient *paying demand* in software to support me presently. I found 
ways to pay my bills, as have many other former developers. The 'demand' 
did not supply the market.

If the demand were to return in a tangible sense, you'd see a few people 
dusting off their compilers. I'd rather be hacking, though I do enjoy 
other aspects of my life. I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone.

So, a business facilitating the services of software developers has to 
understand immediately that the financial relationship with developers 
is just as important as the warm fuzzy relationship with handling the 
consumers. 'Here I am, stuck in the middle with you...' :P

-- 
Taran Rampersad
cnd@knowprose.com
http://www.knowprose.com
http://www.fsc.cc/
http://www.uwi.edu/scs/
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