Murphy's Law: This Too Shall Not Pass

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cameron7

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cameron7

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LatiosXT

A long standing issue I've been dealing with when it comes to accepting FOSS is that I feel it forces software into becoming a "hobby". If your code is freely available for anyone to use, modify, compile, then is there a point to becoming a software engineer? Or rather, is there a point to being a "professional software writer"?

But then a friend of mine pointed to me how to see this in the right way, so to speak. The whole idea of sharing code isn't really so much about everyone who wants to use this software is on equal terms. i.e. Joe Shmoe can be a jackass, take code, package it up in his own way without any real effort on his part (e.g.,  copying the source code off a website, modifying parameters, and be done with it), but it's more or less to create standards. There are a ton of things in this world that would be better off with standards than with competition. For example, utitility companies are pretty much the only industry allowed to have a monopoly. Why? If there were 3 power companies, there would be 3 times as many power lines. That's not economically viable nor will it look nice. 

One of the things that needs to be address is security. In a closed source situation (like Microsoft and Apple), if a security hole is found, it's up to the company to find it and patch it, which could take God knows how long. In an open source situation, it could take less time to find it and patch it, in theory. In any case, even if the company doesn't just freely give out the source, they should at least make it available in some way. I'd rather have some basis of standards that is... well standard enough, but at the same time flexible enough so people still have the freedom to do what they want. And Linux/GPL does just that, so to speak. But as a caveat, even if everything supposedly works together, it also means you have more choices to make, which people aren't very good at at times. Hardware for example. If you were a total newb at buying video cards, you're going to have a fun time choosing one.

 In any case, how would you make money off a FOSS model if your software is just given away? You offer services. And this makes sense. Another friend of mine were discussing a brand of watches that were ridonkulously expensive to the point that was the advertising gimmick. But he also points out that these watches are entirely hand made. Can you go to the local Target and pick up a hand made watch? No, because who bothers with such an archaic talent? But they were expensive, while mass produced items are afordable. In fuzzy analogy, software can just be copied and pasted an infinite number of times as needed. How can you sell something that has little to no value? You find something that can't be replicated infinitely. So whatever services that may be, you sell those.

But in reality, this could also mean that these proprietary companies are selling their software at premiums on the claim they also, supposedly, offer premium service. Like say pirating Windows gest you a free copy of Windows, but say three years down the road, it'll become a gimped copy of Windows because it'd be like driving a car without servicing it for three years. Or something.

Politics and economics, the lovely driving factors of our lives.

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nekollx

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TesserId

Surly, there is a difference between voluntary sharing and state mandated sharing. 

Corporations had been voluntarily establishing public industry standards long before open source, often without any government involvement.  

The voluntary sharing of open source can easily be seen as an expansion of that freedom to establish industry standards.  

And, such voluntary community involvement--either among corporations or individuals--should not be confused with the state-enforced sharing characterized in communism.

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TheMurph

I think we can agree that the concept of communism -- the shared production of a given resource -- isn't referring to a state-run mandated sharing in this case.

To be fair, however, open-source doesn't abolish property rights communism-style.  Rather, it allows for the distribution of these rights and processes amongst a wide group of people.  Perhaps that's more the crux of your argument?

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TesserId

Yes, we agree.

But, to clarify, we live in a culture of sound bytes, and the deeper philosophical intricacies of certain philosohies are less of interest to the general population.  Instead, people are likley to take knee-jerk guilt-by-association  meaning from certain kinds of terminology.

So, I often find myself defending terminology at least as often as I explore the deeper meanings of things.  

There are still plenty of people who fear Communism; and as a form of government that still exists in this World, that fear is not without merit. 

And, because of that fear, there is still a strong likelyhood that the freedom of open-source might could be understated by using terminology that is associated with a lack of freedom.

This is why I get wary anytime someone uses terminology that might be interpreted as assocating Open Source with any manner of political agenda--radical or otherwise.  We just don't need that kind of labeling. 

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jnutley

The CEOs totally understand community development... with their lawyers down the office hall.  Trying to sell them on the concept of harnessing the power of the fan-folk fails because it has to pass muster with the corporate lawyers, who are trained to be paranoid control freaks.  They CANNOT CONCIEVE of risking their property in the hands of unauthorized individuals, and someone seeking authorization is volunteering to be milked at their (the corporation's) convienience.

 

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Neon Samurai

 Proprietary software demonstrates far more of the Communist ideal from the ownership if ideas (patents), state supported economics in absence of competition based on quality (lock-in, back room deals, DMCA to block competition) and on through to  controlling how and when the consumer may use there purchased and owned product (legally dubius EULA, DMCA, Lock-in). Microsoft and Apple go to great lengths to impose market dominance and block fair competition from new entrants or better technology. MaxPC, such shallow thinking is usually below you. (meant as a reply to the article, not the comment above) 

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TheMurph

I'm trying to follow your train of thought, but I'm getting lost.  Can you elaborate? 

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Neon Samurai

I'm still looking for a specific article but this article and resulting discussion is also a good start: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/opensource/?p=117 http://techrepublic.com.com/5206-12853-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=240887&start=0 (eesh.. it can hurt to read one's comments from much earlier days.. hopefully my spelling has improved since)

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Neon Samurai

When I posted my original comment, it returned a "violates posting rules" error so I was limited to the brief but less clear comment above. In short, anyone seriously calling FOSS communist in nature is demonstrating a blind knee jerk emotional response without any actually thought about the development model. Essentially, FOSS software competes within a healthy capitalist market; barriers to new competition are purposefully kept low, products become popular because of there quality and functionality, lesser products loose out in the darwinian process of natural market forces like consumer selection. Developers are free to choose an existing license or write there own and copyright is the primary method of enforcement. As an example, Ubuntu is the popular brand that everyone's heard of as a result of natural market forces and user selection rather than being mandated as the one true way (state decree). This is all frequently reffered to as The Bazzar where any merchant can throw down a blanket and start competing in the market place with there wares. There is also the allowance for peer review of products; how does that nifty steam powered gismo work and how easily does the boiler blow up after I get it home and near my kids? By contrast, proprietary software is often refereed to as Cathedral style development; it is issued from the top down from a central body. A new entrant has a much smaller chance of overcoming political barriers to entry even if they happen to have a better product. Ideas rather than methods of implementation are guarded closely as state secrets. Developers are told what they will work on and limited in what quality of code they are allowed to produce; "good enough" to get the sale versus coding to the developers maximum ability. The citizens are told what they may do with the given product. Users are told "all computers shalt have Windows on them" and any distribution channels that average citizens have access too have upheld this decree from the hierarchical cathedral. It's about how many Windows licenses MS can move out of it's warehouse not how many of those licenses are actually desired by the consumer or ever see use. In a communist society, everything including ideas belong to The Party. Production is assigned and quantities mandated in absence of consideration for how much product is actually needed or what the factory and region are best at producing. Sure, most people may have been assigned a car but that vehicle was not of high quality nor was the quality of the assigned amount of fuel per household. It was about maintaining a strict set of laws that benefited the ruling party and Oligarchy (real power behind The Party). Much of this became clearly visible during the fall of communism as the former Russian states slowly transitioned to governing themselves. I'm trying to find a post that someone else put up about a year ago that presented a brilliantly clear comparison. 

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LatiosXT

I think you're confused.

Communism in its ideal form would be everyone produces and shares what everyone else needs. In practice though, that's not the case. Actually in fact, the first stage of government in communism is to allow the government to set the people on the right path, before eventually fading out completely because eventually the people should be learned enough to figure stuff out for themselves. Of course, in practice, humans are too lusful for power that they never get past the first step.

If anything, proprietary software and licensing represents a police state.

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dullthud

If you have police, you have a police state. All that varies is the degree of suppression.

It isn't just power lust that pre-empts true communism. Communism in the manner you describe, ie. ideal, can only truly exist if all people are absolutely equal, ie. clones, or otherwise engineered. Unfortunately there is too much diversity between individuals to have true equality. Some people will always be smarter, or stronger, or healthier, or more skilled at a given task. Perhaps we might evolve to the point where it is possible to have true anarchic communism, where everyone can be trusted to do their best all the time for the good of the species without being forced, but, that would mean a hive consciousness, where individualism is suppressed for the good of all. Whoa would that suck.

Artificially intelligent robots could probably do it, but I doubt that humans ever will, we're not wired right.

 

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