Re: [ox-en] What if the designs of everything were free?
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2003 22:06:30 +0200
Hi Rich, Chris, list!
Last month (54 days ago) Rich Walker wrote:
Last week (13 days ago) Rich Walker wrote:
Of course, this already happens - see the OHGPL for an example, and
there is a lot of other stuff under opencores.org and other places in a
similar vein. However, there may still be a difference between what can
be done by a disparate diffident group of contributors, and what can be
done by a highly-resourced focussed team. The issue we need to address
is how to generate the equivalent of highly-resourced focussed teams
without the current model of producing them.
Well, Free Software shows what disparate - while not diffident ;-) -
groups of contributors can come to. However, you mentioned the point
the high amount of resources needed to make some things happen.
To clarify, I think there are projects that need large amounts of "easy"
resources - for example, barn-building or testing a new kernel version
for working on all hardware. Then there are projects that need a
small-ish team to work on them for a substantial period, often with a
large amount of infrastructure. For example, producing a CAD system,
developing a new jet engine, or producing a new CPU architecture that
From these examples I find the jet engine example the most
interesting, because I guess at some point you simply really must have
a 3D-prototype. Up to this point - also for the other examples - I
can't see why a concerned group of individuals on the Internet should
not be able to create the design in Free Software manner.
(The last of these reminds me that the Alpha AXP design
process was managed by a project team within DIGITAL that had no
resources to employ anyone outside the initial team, and no line
authority - so all they could do was to persuade other parts of the
company to do the work. Worth tracking down the Digital R&D journal
that this is in - I think it's still on the net).
Sure. Any volunteers?
This is something where Free Software has the advantage that the means
of production necessary for producing Free Software in many Western
households are standard devices today. I think this is one of the main
reasons why Free Software was able to take off at all.
Yes, for software we gain the twin advantages of cheap distribution and
cheap installation. But for hardware or physical objects these
advantages don't exist - the question is what changes to the model are
Exactly. I think the availability of universal production machines is
an important step. That is the direction of fabber farms / industrial
robots for a local community. However, I think this could have a lot
of more thought.
My supposition at present is that, failing a complete
transition to some completely different economic model, we will see the
need to cover-your-ass over the construction and installation charges
will tend to outweigh other advantages of Free systems, and
organisations with a CYA policy internally will select from things where
they can go and point their finger at the manufacturer in the event of
problems. (After alll, you can always un-install EMACS, but it's a real
swine to try to un-install a pipeline or engine).
Ok. But isn't one of the advantages of a Free Design that the very
process improves on quality as well as its openness gives a chance to
check its quality? Thus firms may adopt Free Designs more easily and
take responsibility by offering maintenence services.
So the question comes back to the old socialist question of the means
of production. However, in Free Software we see how the movement
builds its own means of productions part by part. I mean the `gcc' -
may be the root of everything - is one means of production. Emacs is
another and so on. Continuing this thought would mean that the means
of production necessary are built by the movement. I could imagine
this may happen.
Umm; i think you may be mistaken in this but. The means of production
for Free Software are perhaps *not* the tools used in the production
process - they are instead the tools used in the *distribution*
process. For example, I have acquired Free Software by post, by personal
handover or copying, over my Internet connection, and by purchase of
CD. Until I had a robust unmetered Internet connection, I don't consider
that I really had the ability to have a Free Software infrastructure,
because the overhead cost of distribution and installation was very high
- higher than for commercial software. But once it became possible for
me to upgrade a box by typing "apt-get update; apt-get upgrade" and it
to Just Work, I had a Free Software infrastructure.
I think you are confusing production and re-production / distribution
here. Installing Free Software is re-production / distribution.
Developing Free Software just needs `gcc' (or similar tools).
A short note to Chris' post:
Last month (50 days ago) Chris Croome wrote:
It is somewhat ironic that the dynamic of capitalist
competition is resulting if the adoption of the free
software mode of production since if this mode of
production becomes dominant it will be the end of
It is also really unclear what capitalism as a whole can
do about this -- it's kind of like it is eating itself
from inside out.
This is exactly what I think how a dialectical overcoming of
capitalism must look like. Free Software is a germ form for this type
Mit Freien Grüßen