[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [DotGNU]Re: DotGNU and business

From: Norbert Bollow
Subject: Re: [DotGNU]Re: DotGNU and business
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2002 22:52:37 +0200

Timothy Rue <address@hidden> replied to a message from me:

>  NB> "Coming up with a genuine and better option", that's definately
>  NB> necessary, and in fact that's the focus of the DotGNU project.
> so long as it's exclusive to dotGNU developers "original vision" and
> control by....... them?
> Or don't you realize the integrity of the sum of your comments is comming
> across to me in such a nature of expressing to exclude the users with the
> idea of such an exclusion being for the benefit of the developers/
> "contributors."

Every user is free to become a contributor by either starting to
contribute, or paying someone to contribute on their behalf.
So, we're not excluding anyone.

I think it's just a fact of life that free software projects are
shaped to a large extent by their contributors.  DotGNU has a
RMS-appointed Steering Committee, but let's face it, if we can't
generally convince the contributors that what we say is good
and right, sooner or later the project will get forked.  So
DotGNU really is a codocracy, i.e. those who code have the power.

Of course I acknowledge every contributor needs to keep the
needs of the users in mind.  If we don't do that, most of our
labor will be in vain.  Software is useless unless it meets the
needs of its users.

>  NB> No, we're not in the business of trying to decide what is
>  NB> "useful to everyone".  (I think that's what Microsoft Inc
>  NB> is trying to do :-)
> ??? this comes across to me as a rather large contridiction to the spirit
> of GPL. Having a goal of making stuff that is useful to as many others as
> possible vs. trying to dictate what is useful to everyone, are two
> different things. Perhaps I wasn't making myself clear?

As DotGNU is intended to provide (among other things) a
general-purpose software platform on which all kinds of programs
can be run, we'd certainly like DotGNU to be useful for every
computer user, worldwide.

What I'm trying to say is two things:

(1) I don't think we can claim having any _objective_
    decision-making procedures to determine what will be "useful
    to as many others as possible".  In fact I even think that
    it would be impossible to really improve on the situation that
    every contributor comes with a subjective preception of what
    is valuable, and contributes accordingly.

(2) Because Microsoft Inc keeps their software proprietary,
    their users are subject to Microsoft's decisions of what
    Microsoft considers "useful to everyone".  Things are
    different in the world of Free Software.  If users want
    something, they can get it.  If the DotGNU project doesn't
    want the change for whatever reason, they can still fork.

>  NB> Those who contribute have the freedom of deciding what parts
>  NB> they want to contribute to, and thereby it's the contributors
>  NB> who ultimately determine what the final product will be like,
>  NB> within some contraints like that we'll not allow anyone to steer
>  NB> the DotGNU project away from its original vision, and that we'll
>  NB> not tolerate any violations of GNU policy.
> What is the "original vision"?

See the website (which badly needs updating, there's very little
there yet besides that vision).

>  NB> What I mean is that by contributing to DotGNU, developers should
>  NB> be able to make enough money to allow for having a family, a
>  NB> decent standard of living, and building up a personal reserve.
> What happens when the majority of work on dotgnu gets completed where
> what is left is maintainance and general slower comming improvements?

Then DotGNU will be a commodity, and the revenue from
DotGNU-focused business activities will decrease

This implies that in the long term, it's not good for a company
to limit itself (e.g. by choice of name) to DotGNU-related areas
of business.  I think it's much better to start a general Free
Software company, and have that company focus on DotGNU for
exactly as long as that makes good business sense.

> Or is dotgnu to continue on with feature creep leading to
> bloatware?

So many of the Steering Committee members are vehemently opposed
to bloatware that I'll predict that this won't happen.
(I.e. those who want to take feature creep to extremes would
have to fork at some stage.)

> Perhaps I just don't understand what the "original vision" is.
> Can you explain or point me to a url that explains the stages of dotgnu
> development, where "contributing to DotGNU" is an ever expanding or at
> least a sustaining continuing process for to whole of contributors?
> I'm under the impression that the idea MS has is to "rent" access to .net
> development resources and such while applying licensing limitations. But
> how is that to work for DotGNU?

I don't expect that to be the case.  Also, we don't need that.
Unlike Microsoft Corp., we're not under any shareholder pressure
to produce a long-term "cash cow".  I think it's good enough
when those who contribute get paid fairly for the work they do.
When we get to the stage when DotGNU is so good that only
relatively few people have strong felt needs to improve it
anymore, the number of active contributors will drop
accordingly.  At the same time the available amount of money for
paying contributors will decline.  If we manage to create an
_efficient_market_ for contributions to DotGNU (I believe that I
have some workable ideas for that) then these two processes will
match up.

>  NB> Yes.  It's not quite clear to what extent we can reach this
>  NB> goal.  Still, it's a goal of the DotGNU project, and a good
>  NB> objective to keep in mind.
> ???? the goal you are refering to is?

This goal, concerning which I'm not sure whether we'll be able to
reach it, is what I labeled as goal 3, that we can arranging for
all DotGNU contributors developers to get paid well for the work
they're doing.

> to build the online developer
> resource? If that is what it is then I have no doubt that it will get
> done. As it seems rather clear what needs to be done to create a GNU
> verion of CLI.

That part of DotGNU is well on its way, and making steady
progress.  There are some other areas that give more reason for
concern, I mean parts for which we have dreams but no solid
design yet.  I wish we had the resources to hire a couple of
skilled, experienced people to work out a good, solid,
consistent design for those parts.  (I think that would in fact
be a good objective for a first round of fund-raising.)

> And time has proven the undeniable force of GNU in moving
> forward, regardles of how slow that moving forward may seem at times.

/me nods

>  NB> IMHO the most serious threat to this strategy is that the courts
>  NB> might consider "RAND licensing" of software patents to be good
>  NB> enough for meeting the requirements of anti-trust law.  ("RAND
>  NB> licensing" of patents makes the corresponding "inventions"
>  NB> usable in proprietary software only.)
> Like I've said, there are things you cannot patent, of which common sence
> prohibits. One such thing not patentable is the concept of "innovation".
> Or at least if you do somehow manage to get a patent on it as perhaps a
> business model, then I'm sure such things as natural human rights to
> make improvement that benefit oneself and society, the constitution of
> the US, etc. would be plenty enough that such a patent holder trying to
> defend their patent in a court room, would most certainly fail.  So Why
> the focus on what you may not be able to do, when there is plenty that you
> can do and certainly expand upon?

We're screwed if something becomes entrenched as a de-facto
standard for one of the many key areas of information exchange
on the internet but turns out to be impossible to implement in
Free Software for legal reasons.

However, there are quite a few companies actively pushing to
create exactly that kind of situation.

We clearly cannot back away from being active in these areas
of emerging de-facto standards.  At the same time, we need to be
aware that there are some players in this area who don't
hesitate to use dirty tricks when they get a chance to gain an
advantage through such tactics.  So we need to keep our eyes
open, and be aware of the risks, so that we can avoid taking
huge risks without realising it.

> perhaps there is an evolution beginning to happen, in a new earnings
> or cash flow model. Consider mixing a single developer bid process with
> where developers interested can post their
> availability and projects interested in helping, along with income/time
> period bid.
> Having a go between like this can allow doing as much as can be matched up
> to do.

I don't expect this to take off.

The first important question that needs to be answered for any
such model is:  Who will want to pay for the development work,
and why?

Then look at the question of whether to them, this model or the
more standard approach of hiring a developer will be preferable.
In all the examples that I've thought through so far, I've come
to the comclusion that hiring the developer is preferable.

Greetings, Norbert.

Founder & Steering Committee member of
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet     (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59          Fax +41 1 972 20 69
List hosting with GNU Mailman on your own domain name

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]