Subject: Re: Epistemology of FS
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2005 19:26:13 +0900

>>>>> "g" == DV Henkel-Wallace <gumby@henkel-wallace.org> writes:

    g> It's a second assertion, not an implied conclusion.

The implicit conclusion I meant was explicitly stated (repeatedly, as
if that would make it somehow be true) by Laurence Guerby: "economists
have been studying the wrong things, and continue to do so."

    g> You should not be disappointed.

I would think an historian/epistemologist would pick up the rock and
watch the bugs scurry, rather than conclude there ain't no bugs cause
they ain't on top of the rock.

    g> More importantly that second comment not a profound
    g> epistemological statement about the social sciences[*] it's an
    g> assertion of the realities of the funding environments.

It used to be that data and computation were costly in empirical work,
but computation no longer is, at all, and data often is not.  Lack of
funding didn't stop Linus from writing Linux, and it doesn't stop any
economist from doing the research he wants to, for the same reason.

It is my personal opinion that of the social sciences economics and
management science, at least, are greatly overfunded, or maybe
misfunded is a better way to put it.  Far too much is granted to the
competent theoretical wankers; like hackers, we have a research jones,
can't help ourselves.  Hand us mops and buckets, and we'll be down in
the janitors' closet scratching equations on the walls.  By contrast,
far too little is spent on assembling and disseminating useful data.

So throwing money at my profession is not likely to get useful
results.

Historians are another matter completely, but where in the world are
we going to find politicians sane enough to throw money at _them_?  :-(

    g> ObFSB tie-ins: I don't feel there is much serious study of free
    g> software economics yet (there is some fuzzy "community" stuff).

You're looking in the wrong places, then.

As you know, there are fashions in academia, and I assure you that if
FLOSS were to become fashionable, there are enough people fooling
around with economic research on it already to publish several hundred
papers in the next three or four years.  But it's just not that big a
deal to anybody except the five or six of us who work in economics but
live in free software development.  I don't see it becoming a fad.

And it's not at all obvious to me that it should be.  I think it is
and should probably continue to be a fringe around the various
"economics of" academia, IT, information, R&D, and law/IP fields.

-- 
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.