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Re: Release plans

From: Thomas Lord
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 17:22:30 -0700
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20060808)

Lennart Borgman (gmail) wrote:
Thomas Lord wrote:
Consider a feature, X, which is desirable for practical purposes.

Consider a feature, Y, which is banned. [....]

Are you sure that reasoning is valid as an argument here? There will for
example, as you even hint, be different economic incentives for
different people.

Yes, I've seen it happen.

There are different incentives for different people, that's right.
So, the guy that goes into business selling non-free X because
he did a masters thesis that made it uniquely easy for him to
implement X -- THAT GUY --  that guy is the main (type of)
guy around whom start-ups are formed.

That unique advantage for "that guy" is only half of what makes
the business, though.   The other two halves are that other people
will find other things easier to do than implement X and that other
people want X.

The "hat trick" -- the perfect three points for a non-free software
start-up -- are:  (1) a program X that it is easy for me to write;  (2)
where X is hard for YOU to write;  (3) and people want X for
practical purposes.

"That guy" for whom X is easy is rare but, in a sufficiently
large crowd, he is practically guaranteed to exist: so (1) is
almost a free point.
There are a lot of possible values of X that people might want so
(3) is practically a free point.

The only touch bit is (2):  X has to be hard for (most) *other*
people to write.   And that's where the questions about banning
feature Y come in.    Banning Y can only help "that guy" with (2).

You should see how the industry of deep packet inspection appliance
vendors has unfolded, for example.   It is exactly this pattern of
start-ups and non-free software.

You can also do the thought experiment of imagining an (unachievable)
world in which any program you could possibly want was, somehow,
cheap and easy to write.   Non-free software business models would not
thrive in such a world, not like they do now (mostly).

We can't every perfectly get to that world but we can get a lot closer
than we are -- and feature bans are a retreat from that objective.


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