Subject: Re: Tim's Architecture of Participation
From: "Benjamin J. Tilly " <ben_tilly@operamail.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 03:21:51 +0800

"Matt Asay" <masay@novell.com> wrote:
> Just an added datapoint on the open source vs. open distribution idea,
> and how it plays into Tim's 'infoware' idea.
> 
> Microsoft just announced "Express" versions of SQL Server and Visual
> Studio/C#/Web Developer.  (See
> http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=SVBIZINK3.story&STORY=/www/story/06-29-2004/0002201482&EDATE=TUE+Jun+29+2004,+02:00+AM)
> 
> The question, then, is whether "free" as in cost (Microsoft's Express
> SQL Server) will trump free as in source (and cost, unless you want
> support or a commercial license) MySQL.  My hunch is "no," but I'm not
> yet able to articulate why....

I'll give you two reasons why.

First of all for community participation, it is critical to
look at factors that key members of the community care
about.  While very few people care about source access,
those that actually do regularly turn out to be some of the
most critical in terms of helping other people out.  Hang
out in any healthy open source community and you'll see this.
Keeping this minority from forming weakens the community
dynamic.  The bulk of people who choose other groups will
choose it because they find more helpful communities in PHP
or Perl, and won't know what made the difference.  But
people's unawareness of the dynamic doesn't stop them from
responding to it.

A second reason is that this product is not free, it has
many hidden costs.  For instance consider whether cheap web
hosting providers (ipowerweb and the like) will provide this
software, and at what price point they'll do it.

If you want to get your feet wet with developing websites,
then you probably don't want to buy a dedicated machine, and
have to administer it. That costs oodles more than just
getting an account.  So the "free" option that is cheapest
for you is whatever is cheapest for a hosting provider to run
in bulk.  And that tends to be Linux or FreeBSD.

Cheers,
Ben