That anti-patent pamphlet I mentioned

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope at
Tue Dec 17 22:44:35 UTC 2002

On 14 Dec 2002 at 3:07, Xavi Drudis Ferran wrote:

> > The big problem with saying software is information is how easy you
> > can get shot down for it. Any half-witted lawyer would shred that
> > argument to pieces and all the protesting in the world will not help
> > you.
> >
> We already know we don't agree in this. 

Well, I suggest you try your argument in a court of law then! ;)

> > I'd also disagree with this. Most software engineers I /believe/
> > work in tying together other bits of software and producing a non-
> > innovative work. I have no hard figures on this, but the bespoke
> > software industry is mostly bread and butter programming doing
> > nothing new and original at all.
> I don't think many people are paid to reinvent the wheel. 
> You either solve a yet unsolved problem (by tying together other bits
> of software, of course) or you get something already done. The fact
> that the unresolved problem is (to some) as uniretesting as a pay roll
> or as interested as eliptical curve cryptograhy has nothing to do with
> the fact that it is a new solution to a new problem. This would be
> called innovative in manufacturing, but it is the norm in software,
> and so you call it bread and butter.  

No you're completely wrong here - the number of internally generated 
libraries never released to the public addressing a problem is huge. 
All this code could be reused but isn't. It's precisely this reason 
why free software is in orders of magnitude more efficient than 
proprietary - because work gets shared, not replicated.

> The fact that innovation in software is typically incremental 
> is a consequence of the fact that it all happens inside a 
> fixed formal framework. But incrementality does not mean 
> lack of innovation. 

True, but incremental innovation tends to be obvious stuff. Blue-sky 
tends to be much less obvious and therefore much more innovative.

> That's why I don't value blue-sky innovation so much. 

If you look at the history of any science, radical departures while 
often not successful in themselves, often have a marked influence. 
Blue-sky innovation is the soul of improvement without which we'd 
still be using monolithic kernels and non-GUI OS's.


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