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Re: [ox-en] Re: Free Software and payment

Hi Markus and all!

3 months (90 days) ago Markus wrote:
simply because i dont feel i know enough on how open source
really works.

Ok. On the other hand I'm certainly not into arts ;-) .

id rather focus on - thats something i understand and feel
confident about. i started writing to
  this list because i got the impression that there are people who might be
interested in working
with us. is not primarily about open source software; it is
about the arts scence. while there
are many similarities (spirit, collective mode of production, democratic
nature), there
are also many things different.

This is really funny because my impression of the arts scence is
completely different. I learned that the arts scene is very
individualistic, reflecting the genius model introduced into arts
somewhere at the beginning of capitalism. I learned that everyone does
her/his own thing so there is even no need to be democratic. I learned
that the spirit is highly competitive because there are many
(wanna-be-)artists but relatively little attention / funding in
comparison. Well, these impressions are primarily from those involved
in painting and the like. May be in music things are a bit different.

I'm really curious if you can give us reasons for your conviction.

well, as i said i want open source to be successful in the marketplace.
what are the most successful
projects? how many are NOT successful? what is the rule and what is the

So your main theses is: Only those Free Software projects are
successful which involve money in a way. Well, to verify or falsify
this theses it probably needs a lot of clarification first. What does
involvement of money mean for instance? Does a single contributor
whose contribution has been created in paid labor time mean that there
is money involved? What does being successful mean?

I'm not saying it is impossible to give answers to this question and
indeed I'd say this would be an interesting research to do. But the
question needs to be put well. I suppose the outcome of such research
will be a wide range of different answers.

to me being successful in the marketplace means that gimp is a viable
option to make the switch from photoshop. this is not the case now.
openoffice has powerful corporate backers. im sure you can mention a
couple of successful examples where there is no money involved; but again,
its dangerous to highlight exceptions and not the rule. you might end up
loosing objectivity.

Well, something like objectivity is probably hard to accomplish
anyway. What does success mean? You don't define it but just just give
an example - however, without reasons. I could give you countless
examples why for example Outlook can't compete with for example MH-E.
After all *I'm* used to read mail by MH-E and Outlook can not even
create decent replies in many cases.

correct me if i am wrong, but open source projects where there is no money
primarily live because of the people who invest their time and knowledge
because they are interested. consequently,
where there is no interesting, challenging task (such as support work,
writing documentations, making sure that
the software is userfriendly and looks good), there is a lack of time and
investment from developers side. now, money can provide an substitute for
the lack of interest and stimulate investment
into the creation and - equally important - uptake and usage of open
source software.

See Mako's paper I referenced recently.

In practice there are Free Software projects which have all the
features you describe - for example an excellent documentation - and
Free Software projects which have not. IMHO it adds to the success of
a Free Software project if these features are present. I'd also not
think that *every* Free Software project *needs* to be successful.

But I'd like to emphasize that there is hardly a single activity which
can *not* be the target of Selbstentfaltung. I for one like to write
documentation for my own Free Software because it makes it usable at
all. There are others out there who love to design user interfaces and
so on. It only depends whether a certain project is lucky enough to
have attracted all kinds of useful abilities.

*This* on the other hand depends on how useful a project seems to such
people. Let me take myself as an example. For quite some time I looked
for a sane ASCII based markup language. I used a couple and so I have
some experience with this type of beasts. Finally I stumbled over
reStructuredText ( I checked
it - and was delighted by it :-) . Not only is it a well thought-out
syntax which looks very "natural". It is also backed by an active user
and developer community.

I decided to start using it - and noted that there was no
font-lock-mode for Emacs for it. And you don't want to edit *any*
formal language without syntax highlighting - do you. So I wrote one.
It was a hard task because reStructuredText is way beyond normal
font-lock modes but given my experience with such things I were
successful. Indeed among the Emacs people using reStructuredText that
syntax highlighting is highly appreciated and may be I was the only
one who had the abilities to write that piece of software. I also
contributed and will contribute a couple more things. I would not have
done all this if I had considered the project useless. And no, in no
instance money was involved.

second, non-monetary costs/investment is only one factor in the creation
of software. very high (economic) costs relate
to promotion. but you cannot pay cdnet, or a newspaper with
your interest in writing code.
there might be examples where money is not involved and the open source
project is still very successful.
but as i said one should not focus on the exceptions and ignore the
general rule.

Well, most people are stunned by the fact that Free Software is
successful even *without* much promotion.

There are a couple of directories out there where you can check for
Free Software (e.g.,, and the
various distributions usually are shipped with large arrays of Free
Software packages. Getting Free Software is more like a pull job
instead of getting pushed this or that product down your throat by
some advertisement. Frankly I prefer this style much over being bugged
all the time by people who want my money ;-) .

Above you accept that Free Software delivers outstanding quality. Why
do you think this is so? I gave the Oekonux reason above, what is

one needs to be more specific. quality depends much on the product.

I disagree. The product is only the result of a process and if the
quality is not built into the process then there will be no quality in
the product. This is common wisdom BTW. For instance the ISO-9000(?)
standards for quality *exclusively* focus on the process.

regarding why there are certainly great open source products, i dont feel
competent enough to state why this is so. perhaps because talent
does not have much to do with the personal motivation?

Now I'm really puzzled. You said you come from the arts scene. Aren't
the greatest artworks done by people who are talented *and* motivated
- to not say driven by their art? Isn't art done by talented but
uninterested people more of a nuisance than anything else?

i absolutely share your concern in this respect regarding software: that
generation of money turns to be the main
motivation. however, in response to that we suggest to give rationality a
strong role in deciding how
gets what and what for. but in this respect, please remember that vn is
not about software.

I just don't think this type of rationality exists.

						Mit Freien Grüßen


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Contact: projekt

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