[clug] Your Best arguments please

John Griffiths johnboy at the-riotact.com
Fri Aug 8 13:46:11 EST 2003

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Well lets start with his assertions:

"First, technological innovation for the most part has been, and will
continue to be, spurred on in the context of for-profit entrepreneurial

Simply and utterly untrue in the computer industry, with the exception
of the commodotisation of computing in the PC model driven by Microsoft
 (MS) - but only as part of their software monopolisation agenda.

Government projects and the education sector have been the main drivers
of computers in the first place (for code breaking and ballistics), and
then in terms of what most of us consider to make up the internet (web
pages and email).

Even when innovations have come from for profit corporations ie. the
mouse and windowing - from XEROX (which are really minor tweaks compared
to the internet and transistor based computing) they have not been sold
entrepeneurially by the corporations which developed them, normally they
have been taken and used by others in a sharing of ideas and information.

The "PC Revolution" was admittedly driven by Microsoft, but it was
caused by MS opening up the hardware standard so any comer could build a
computer, not through any particular innovation.

Rather, refinement and ease of use has driven commerical software. Base
innovation in the IT industry has rarely come from any particular
expected quarter.

Enabling more people to be involved in the process (which open source
does by enabling EVERYONE who wishes to be involved) increases the sheer
random chance of someone having that "good idea" which will come
unlooked for.

Jurisdictions which open their products and processes enable their
citizens and businesses to take part, gain skills, and where they do it
better than others, sell them elsewhere. Proprietary software locks out
everyone else.

Moving on.

"the obvious drawback to this development model is that consumers do not
have the last word in either rewarding or punishing software development
according to actual needs met"

A valid theoretical observation, however anyone who has tried to leave a
proprietary solution quickly realises that the closed, proprietary
formats and business methods give them very little choice to either
reward or punish.

Furthermore anyone who has attempted to get technical support from the
large software vendors, or to request features almost always leaves the
process disapointed,

Commercial software has demonstrated a priority of capturing consumers,
not of catering to their needs.

&every man is more careful to procure what is for himself alone than
that which is common to many or to all: since each one would shirk the
labor and leave to another that which concerns the community, as happens
where there is a great number of servants. Summa Theologiae, II-II, 66,

And common intellectual property, as distinct from real prioperty, gives
to each their own, alone, to procure for.

Remember that shared intellectual property is a complete stand-alone
duplicate. Whereas a shared lawn-mower carries opportunity cost to all
other members of the collective.

Intellectual Property is not diminished in its utility by duplication,
except (and this is important) insofar as scarcity can be damaging to
others, and be used to hold them to ransom. Any argument about IP
predicated on real world property is almost always flawed, because real
property economics is based on scarcity.

And finally

"OSS will continue to provide a niche market solution where its model
can provide a more efficient product than the competition (e.g., various
currently available small-scale World Wide Web solutions). In much the
same way, organic farming provides a niche not preferred by all
consumers of vegetables."

Open source provides ubiquitous, common standards and interfaces. The
utilisation of it is a commodity traded by those with the knowledge to
deploy it. Proprietary software on the other hand maintains its position
and development by decomoditisation of protocols (either by extension or
obfuscation), and vendor lock-in.

The mass produced potatoes, indistinguishable from their competitors
only by price (which represents the efficiency of the producers' supply
chain) are far more analogous to to open software, with its open
standards and open interfaces in its creation.

With the assumptions of the argument relying on smoke and mirrors there
really isn't much left to say about his conclusions.

Cheers, hope this was somewhat coherent.


Carl Jackson wrote:
> Hi All,
>     I'm currently corresponding with an ACT MLA about OSS legislation
> and the MLA has challenged me with the article at the link below .  I
> would appreciate the input of the list Brains Trust on the best
> counter-arguments.  Any and all opinions welcome.  Give it your best -
> there is a vote hanging in the balance here...
> Carl Jackson
>>"<i>A Great Number of Servants</i>: The case against government
> software preferences"

- --

    Not yet is the spirit of that pristine valour
    extinct in you, when girt with steel and lofty flames
    once we fought against the empire of heaven.
    We were -- that I will not deny -- vanquished in that conflict:
    yet the great intention was not lacking in nobility.
    Something or other gave Him victory: to us remained
    the glory of a dauntless daring.
    And even if my troop fell thence vanquished,
    yet to have attempted a lofty enterprise is still a trophy.

    --From La Strage degli Innocenti (The Slaughter of the
Innocents) by Giambattista Marino (1569-1625)
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