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Re: [ELPA] New package: repology.el

From: Dmitry Gutov
Subject: Re: [ELPA] New package: repology.el
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2021 15:15:07 +0200
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On 26.01.2021 07:59, Richard Stallman wrote:
[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]

   > > I think they are software, because they could be modified within an
   > > infinite space of possibilities.

   > A picture can be modified within an infinite space of possibilities. A
   > book can be modified. A mathematical equation can be modified.

That is true, but you've taken the question I raised for myself out of
its context.  The real question is, "In the context, is there any
doubt that this is a piece of software?  If not, what else could it

I think it is clear that a specification of a data structure, meant to
guide a program's operation on that data, is software.  It is
comparable to a bunch of struct and enum declarations which is how we
use C header files to show the structure of other data.

I'm going to say that it's not a program, in the same way as images are not part of a program code. Unlike enums that have a role in writing the code and its compilation, and thus describe aspects of a program, schemas are structured documents which contain information pertaining to other documents.

There are different things a program can do with a schema: it can determine whether a certain document is valid, or it can output some sort of structure describing the elements that are missing in the document, or it could even try to generate a sample document based on that schema (though it would require a fair amount of supporting code). This list is almost certainly incomplete.

So a schema is not a program, nor a part of a particular program.

That said, if we always require that accompanying data (such as images) to be distributed under free licenses, the "software or not" question is probably moot.

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