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Re: [Visionaries] SilverScheme and the end of DG-Scheme

From: Norbert Bollow
Subject: Re: [Visionaries] SilverScheme and the end of DG-Scheme
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2003 21:22:37 +0200 (CEST)

Hash: SHA1

Peter Minten <address@hidden> wrote:

> after careful consideration I've decided to take DG-Scheme out of
> the DotGNU context and rename it to SilverScheme. The reason is that
> I don't want SilverScheme to be as webservice focussed as for
> example C#, rather I want it to be math and metadata focussed,
> experimenting with some new techniques (like a very high amount of
> introspection). Obviously this goal makes SilverScheme fall outside
> of the DotGNU project

Hmm... as much as I hate so say so, I tend to agree.  If a
project doesn't have any strong ties to webservices or to
C# or to IL then it doesn't fit into DotGNU.

On the other hand, just a day ago or so someone showed up in
#dotgnu asking whther DotGNU has a Scheme-like language.  I feel
strongly that DotGNU should have one.  This doesn't need to be a
new one - an existing established language will do fine if we
can plug its interpreter into DGEE similar to how we do with the
python bytecode itnerpreter, or alternatively the language could
be compiled to say Parrot.  DotGNU definately should support
parrot as an alternative to IL... btw how feasible is it to
compile a Scheme-like language to Parrot?

> I do understand the concerns of the opponents of introspection
> however, if you apply introspection to an existing language then all
> the programs written in that language become theoretically a target
> for a GPL circumvention attack.

I don't see how introspection (in the sense in which the term is
used e.g. in Patrick K. O'Brien's "Guide to Python introspection" )
weakens the GPL ?  

> I don't want to create a controversy about the controversial
> aspects of introspection

If there's something dangerous about introspection in general
(and not just a problem with mdupont's so-called "introspector"
patches to gcc which RMS doesn't like) then I think we should not
be afraid of controversy but rather discuss the issues openly.

> I consider introspection a logical and inevitable thing. I also
> consider introspection an advancement of computer science. If
> introspection allows a proprietary company to circumvent the GPL
> on my code than that's bad luck for me.

I don't think that anything is inevitable... but I think that new
technologies which increase flexibility should be endorsed by the
Free Software movement.  Even when it is the case that such
technologies weaken copyleft they also weaken the mechanisms that
proprietary software uses to lock users in.

Let me explain this in the context of the webservices paradigm
which undeniably has the side-effect of weakening copyleft:

We should not disarm unilaterally by adding webservices interfaces
to key bastions of freedom such as gcc, but rather we should build
code for free software webservices that compete in market segments
that are currently dominated by proprietary software.

By the way, I think this may help to solve the problem
of software patents inthe long run:  When a business process
cannot be efficiently carried out using Free Software because
of patent issues, it'll make good business sense to outsource
it to a country which doesn't recognize software patents.
This will make it economically disadvantagrous for countries
ro recognize software patents, and in a globalized economy
where the various countries are competing with each other,
eventually all countries will want to abolish the patentability
of algorithms and other software inventions.

Greetings, Norbert.

- -- 
Founder & Steering Committee member of
Free Software Business Strategy Guide   --->
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59        Fax +41 1 972 20 69
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