The Community is the Company

TonStanco at TonStanco at
Sun May 27 12:16:33 UTC 2001

> I am really missing, because until now I understood that FSMC will pay
> developers to develop free software that FSMC will be the single point
> of distribution.

I think you want to put things in an old paradigm and this is different. The 
FSMC will not "pay developers to develop free software." The developers are 
not employees in the traditional sense. The developers will develop the 
software they want and if customers want to pay for it, it will be sold 
through the FSMC. 

The FSMC will not direct what developers need to work on what. The developers 
work like they do now like a free market, developing what they want, 
organizing themselves like they want. But say there are customers that want 
voice recognition applications, the FSMC will transmit that market 
information to the developers in FreeDevelopers. Then whoever wants to work 
on it and build cooperating/competing teams to work on it, can do so. Then 
what gets used and paid for, is distributed to the developers in an equitable 
>  For me this means that, effectively, developers will be trading their
>  "freedom to make copies for others" for a salary. What am I missing ?
That freedom remains. Anyone can take the software . The question is will 
everyone do it? 

That freedom has 2 parts if you think about it. The freedom to make a copy by 
colleagues who will use it and hack it. The freedom to make a copy by 
customers who will only use it. What most people do is assume that everyone 
is like them. But customers and colleagues are different. 

Most customers seldom just take the software even if it is free as in beer, 
because they don't want the frustration. For them paying $X for something 
that works easily is more important than paying $0, but having to spends 
hours or days making it work. Also, as loic has said it is never $0 anyway, 
because there are already marketing costs and other costs. We are just adding 
the development component to the price.

The confused thinking is easily understood, if you think about something 
where you are a customer not a colleague. For example, when you need legal or 
medical services. 

Both of those are intellectual activities that society got right, i.e. they 
have the 4 freedoms of the GPL. (However, they originally were not free 
either, but have become free over time, just like software is doing now). So 
you can be your own lawyer or even your own surgeon, because all the 
information is in the law or medical library. But who does that? Only the 
expert. Everyone else goes to the expert. 

So just because the 4 freedoms are present (and they must remain present), 
doesn't mean they are actually used by everyone. They will be used only by 
the experts or those who want to become experts (and this takes time, 
interest and commitment). This is really obvious if you think of anything 
where you are not an expert, instead of the things you are an expert.

So, just because customers can make copies, does not mean they will. Just 
like you wouldn't know what to do with law books or medical books unless you 
were a lawyer or doctor, they would not know what to do with the code. This 
doesn't mean you can't learn. But if they learn it, they then become an 
expert. But the vast majority of people never become experts in most things 
because it takes time and effort and they have other things they would rather 

So if you are like some in the community and say that everyone should know 
coding, then you should lead by example and learn law and medicine, first. If 
that repulses you, then you understand what most people feel with they are 
told to learn about computers. Everyone does not have to act the same, to be 
the same. All people are the same, just in different things.

Yes, the analogy is not exact. But it is more like this, than not like this. 
This is the correct paradigm to think in, especially as the code becomes more 
complex. As I said, law and medicine both took this path as they moved into 
more complexity. In fact, law in the earliest times was really just speaking 
for yourself in front of judges (no law as in rules). But even then people 
over time went to experts to speak for them, because the experts developed 
expertise in persuasive speech. Now most people can speak, so it is not that 
they *couldn't* do it. It was that they chose not to do it and would rather 
pay the expert to do it for them. 

Also, what most developers find surprising is that governments and most 
businesses want to pay for development. They understand that sustainable 
development takes money and therefore are afraid of software that does not 
pay the developers, thinking that they will spend money to convert all their 
systems and then lose the support and will have to change back. If you put 
yourself in their shoes, you would do the same thing, because the software 
cost is the smallest cost of the system. Installing, support and training are 
the bigger costs. Also, downtime in mission critical applications can kill 
the business and its reputation, and is not worth the risk. [Which is why the 
statement, no one got fired for buying IBM/Microsoft was/is so powerful]. So, 
ironically for these customers, free as in beer is not a plus. It is a reason 
for not using the software. These customers especially will be the ones who  
will go to the FSMC and generally they will be enough to fund most of the 
development. We will make it the statement that, no one got fired for buying 
FSMC software. 

So even if everyone else just takes the software as you think they would, it 
will still work. But most of them won't either. Most people work for a living 
and want to be paid for their work. So they understand paying for things is a 
fair thing to do. What they don't like to do is pay for buggy or overpriced 
software. But if it goes to fund development by getting money to developers, 
many will understand. The minority who don't is not worth worrying about. It 
is a cost of doing business. Just like there will always be shoplifters, but 
most understand how the system works and that they must use some of the money 
they make working, for things that others must be paid to make. I know that 
using free software without paying is not like shoplifting. I use it only to 
say that a system works even if there are inefficiencies and losses in the 
system so that the system is not 100%. But we don't need a 100% system, 
because now we have a near 0% system. I would be happy with a 30-50% system. 
That itself would do a lot of good. 

Now, I have a challenge. I have spent a lot of time working on the CommCo and 
explaining it. Now, instead of putting me on the defensive and having to 
defend my system. Why don't you construct a better one? I find most people in 
the community attack any idea as bad, which is the easy thing to do, but then 
do nothing more. While an idea may be bad, the current situation can still be 
worse. It is silly to attack any new idea and remain with a bad status quo. 

If you want to defend the status quo, because everything is fine, you can do 
that too.  So either defend the status quo or explain your better solution.

But to be fair, it is time we reversed positions and you serve and I hit back 

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