The Community is the Company
João Miguel Neves
jneves at ieee.org
Sat May 26 12:13:45 UTC 2001
Thanks for the interaction. I'm learning a lot.
Let me try to resume this, so I can avoid my tendency to digress. Sorry
for the repetition of somethings, but I think it's needed.
Your premisses, as I see them:
(1) Free software development is more efficient than proprietary
(2) Software should be free because it can enforce controls on people.
(3) To become the only kind of software development, free software
development needs to find a way to get money to developers.
(4) The market isn't working right now because the companies are gaining
money from free software are not using that money to reward developers.
(5) The way to correct the market is to create an organization that
sells free software and rewards developers. This company would have a
The premisses I think are not correct are (3) and (4). In (3) I'm not
sure if I want a single type of software development, I believe
diversity is beautiful (I believe this is another discussion). My real
problem is with (4). What I've seen of the market is that more and more
companies hire free software developers either letting them work on or
with the purpose of working on free software projects.
As I see it, then there's the market. FSMC (Free Software Marketing
Company) will have to be extremely effective at marketing if it wants to
be a world-wide software supplier that, according to you, will compete
with a lot of companies that don't have that cost. Simply put, what will
be this company market advantage ? After all all the system depends on
the success of FSMC.
To me it seems that, as described, FSMC depends on getting a
distribution monopoly on some free software projects. This limitation on
distribution reduces the effectiveness of development by separating
users from developers, putting marketers in the middle of that
interaction. This introduction causes delays in the feedback loop that
we agree to be an important feature of free software development. This
means effectively reducing free software development efficiency.
The reason why I don't think the market is as gloomy as it seems is that
the number of companies that have been working with free software is
increasing, and most of them are not playing by corporate rules, but by
the community rules. Those who don't have less support by the community
and end up paying more for their product development, so they have to
ask more money from their customers.
An example of this, as far as I can tell, has been Caldera. They had one
of the first "graphical" linux distributions, but they've fall beyond
most of others in market share. My point is that this happened because
most of its value-added software was not free and not even
Joao Miguel Neves
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