Metaphors of Free Software

Thomas Doczkal mailinglist at
Thu Oct 2 17:12:54 UTC 2014

On 10/02/2014 12:29 PM, Michael Kesper wrote:
> Hi Alessandro,
> Am 30.09.2014 23:37, schrieb Alessandro Rubini:
>> Software is information, and has zero marginal cost in replication and
>> spreading.  Any "metaphor" with physical goods is weak; people will
>> soon find the weak points of the metaphor, and disregard free
>> software.
Guido mentioned in his mail[1] a recipe (for cooking I imagine).
I think this is a good example as you have nearly as small costs for a
data medium (USB, CD or alike) as you have for a recipe book.
If you transfer this to software you will find out that software costs
money as well. At least someone (if not you) has to pay the bill to
store the software created and the energy consumption. Even if you use a
LiveCD and storage like github storing the data costs money and this
might be more then most people might think.

You might interfere here and say in times of cloud storage you won't
have to pay for a few gigabyte of data you store. That might be true and
you won't have to pay with money but in the end you pay, the one or
other way. But I think that's a different topic.

Even though a metaphor is never perfect it gives a picture of what you
want to say and most often even non-technical people can get an idea of
your message behind that. For some people a screw driver is closer
related to there daily work or free time activities then a (cooking)
recipe so it might be worse to find a metaphor suitable for the audience
you are talking to.

That are just my two cents.

Best Regards,


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