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Re: real world problems vs. abstract problems - distinctions? policy?

From: Uday S Reddy
Subject: Re: real world problems vs. abstract problems - distinctions? policy?
Date: Wed, 06 Oct 2010 11:43:56 +0100
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On 10/6/2010 12:47 AM, Stefan Monnier wrote:

Actually, the same is true of software you pay for (maybe even more so,
since the commercial constraints forces coders to concentrate on
bugfixes with a clear monetary value, whereas volunteers may opt to fix
a purely theoretical bug simply because they enjoy doing it).


However, commercial houses also have commercial pressures which might send them in 
directions that are not clearly aligned to monetary value.  Sun Microsystems, for 
instance, developed a lot of software out of "theoretical" interest.  Google 
might be doing the same but is perhaps better able to balance its theoretical and 
commercial interests.

Commercial houses also get revenue from their products and they can use it to employ 
people and splurge on "theoretical" issues which might or might not have 
immediate monetary value.  Microsoft apparently has 5th biggest citation counts in the 
world for computing-related research, which was kind of surprising to me when I 
discovered it.

Commercial houses have hierarchical management.  So, somebody higher up can be sold on a 
theoretical issue and get his/her people to work on it without concern for monetary 
benefit.  The general incompetence of management structures means that such 
"wastage" of resources might go unnoticed for a long time.

Come to think of it, commercial pressures or "market pressures", if you wish, 
are just as much at play in free software as in commercial software.  We compete with 
other free software for our users and our developers.  But we are less likely to waste 
resources in general because we don't have incompetent management structures and we don't 
have money to splurge.

But, the real reason I brought up the issue of free software in my response was 
that a commercial developer might feel an obligation to explain to his/her 
users why some issue isn't important.  A free software developer is under no 
such obligation.  He/she just develops whatever he/she enjoys doing.  That is 
the end of that!


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