Subject: Re: Epistemology of FS
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2005 19:49:04 +0900

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <> writes:

    Ian> I don't personally think economics has much insight into free
    Ian> software, at least in its hobbyist and "scratch an itch"
    Ian> incarnations.  (Obviously some economists may disagree.)

But insight is totally unnecessary!  You just move the hobby effort
from the consumption column to the investment column, and measure it.
Economics has the "appropriate level of abstraction" in this sense.

Sure, if you want to know _why_ people get involved in free software,
or _how_ it happens that Emacs has never achieved its rightful
position as the ubiquitous user interface :-), you need history and
sociology (among many others).  But questions like "what if software
patents become world wide and the legal industry concerning them
becomes a multi-billion dollar business?" are inherently economic
(because they depend on a notion of strategic equilibrium), and though
economists do not get lots of "technical merit" points for their
handling of such counterfactuals, they still take the gold in this

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
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.