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

Hi Stefan and all,

Hi Markus and all! 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.

some people showed interest in the thing we are doing here so i hope you dont mind that we mention vn in the "intersection" of arts and open source when it fits.

im not really from the arts scene (at least if you exclude copyright laywers) either and i have the same opinion on the arts scene. the similarities i mentioned were referring to and open source and not open source and the arts scene in general. from what i have seen, the "sharing" and the "ease of building on the works of others" spirit (expressed in the gnu/vn digital license; are the same in open source and vn;

as for the collective mode of production, it is the collective decision making body (t-bt) who decides via simple polls what work is being funded (from an economic perspective, it works like the streetperformer protocol). bt make an investment (BT Contribution) to produce something (like in open source) but they invest money (unlike open source) by paying the membership fee and deciding on the distribution via important economic decision polls.

regarding democracy, when looking closer at open source projects, i have to admit that there is not much of a democratic element in open source projects. (and i absolutely agree there is not much of democracy in the case of the arts scene). im not saying that this is necessarily bad. generally, we have a "modified democracy" where there are five parties/interest/production forces fractions (users, artists, vn people, open source movement, rationality/objectivity) with an combined equal voting power (20% each). the outcome of any "vote" and important economicc decisions depends, however, on the interest of the individual as each person is supposed to vote in his/her personal interest. in part as response to what people have argued here (and which convinced us) we have somehwat reduced the role of "democracy" on

regarding the intersection open source, vn and art, right now we are in the process of building up a community. we want to be able to offer artists money in exchange for their work and if we can give them something they want we can also get entertainment content produced on a regular basis under a somewhat "open source license" (vn digital license) - in the sense that music is freely accessible and modifieable and there is no need to ask for ex-ante permission (this is like the gnu). but - unlike in many open source projects - money is going to get involved. much like in the mozialla foundation. difference, however, is that there is a "modified democractic" decisionmaking as regards the distribution of available wealth and a high degree of transparency how much money there is in the foundation and where the money goes. last time i looked at mozilla, those were two (imho) serious shortcomings (despite the great work they are doing).

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?

im not saying ONLY those projects are successful which involve money but IMHO as a rule they tend to be more "successful". "successful in the market place" (for me) means that its a viable competitor to closed source programs and that people (and not only techies) know about it and use it. this is certainly a very high threshold and many people will disagree on that. imho, the higher the threshold the more there is the need for money.

from our daily work, some of the bigger software/applications we most frequently use:

joomla, openoffice, photoshop, autorun (to create dvd menus), autogk (to convert & compress files into xvid), cpanel, myphpadmin.

from those we paid for photoshop and autorun. with gimp, we have difficulties in using it. we would like to make the switch to gimp. there this tender: unfortunately, not one of the 30+ people who looked at this tender got even curious and asked what the whole thing is all about. guess we still have to continue using photoshop. apart from difficulties in using gimp, there are problems with printing A3+ formats in .xfc (a number of printing stores you need to come with a psd file). we could not find a suitable alternative to autorun.

regarding open source products, we dont know to what extent money is actually involved in the other projects mentioned above.

on the other hand, joomla, the cms we use, is excellent and no money is involved (yet). regardless, i think people who do such a great job deserve (from a moral perspective) some remuneration. for instance, i really think reasonable annual membership fees of a joomla foundation for instance could provide for a revenue stream which can be given to developers allowing them to work more focussed on the development. it also allows them to get together and discuss things in person with each other. regarding the "fair" distribution of money, i think involvement of all (conflicting) production/consumption forces (somewhat like in a democracy) in this wealth accumulation/distribution process is giving the distribution enough "justification" to silence most of the people who complain about where the money goes. on vn we call this important economic decisions (

regarding to changing (rather than substituting) the incentives when introducing money, i just dont think that so many of the developers would be tempted by the "lure of money". personally, ive been investing a lot of my time and also some money into this project here ( and i certainly would welcome some financial return for that. not because id like to make tons of money (in fact, the independent supervisory board (interest fraction-rationlity) of vn comes up with a proposed salary range. but money would give me the necessary independence to work focussed on the achievement of the goals. and - at least in the case of vn - this is defenitely a big plus. i think the same is true for many open source developers.

recently, there was an interesting article on slashdot ( regarding someone from sun speaking about "directed interested" and what lessons open source can learn from capitalism. i think its a good approach and the guy should know what he is talking about.

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.

i agree. it doesnt need to be successful, but personally id like them to be because i like open source and the sharing mentality better than the "closed capitalistic system".

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

again, it depends how you define successful. dont get me wrong, im stunned what open source projects are coming up with. joomla, for instance, is truly amazing. its such a complex system and it works, support is great and the community is huge. defenitely a successful project - by all definitions. but there are also many other projects where this is not the case. true, they dont need to be successful, but id like them to be.

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 ;-) .

many thanks for the links Stefan. we mainly use open source. but the thing is we are rather tech savy. id like other, non-techies use open source software/standards as well. thats one of our main goals we want to achieve with our foundation and the production of the personalised tournament cds (content exclusively in ogg/xvid) in particular. for instance, with this we are trying to get the xvid codec on the computers of people. and we think that they are going through the hassle because they can see themself on the tournament dvd because they have participated. coupled with easy instructions, this should make most of the participants get xvid installed. of course, in absolute numbers, its not that relevant (yet). but its a start. our main focus is on students right now - and in europe alone there are 17 million. so thats quite a large group and could have some impact in over the (very) long run. yes, there is an element of "push" involved (people need to install the xvid codec), but we think this is acceptable.

i understand that you dont want to get bugged by people who want your money. well, we cant really say we dont want your money; but we would use it to promote open source and do other good things with it. in fact, there is room for 8192 bt who can - to quite some etxent - decide what exactly happens with the money vn generates and how it is distributed.

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.

i dont understand this. do you dont want to say that a product is automatically good just because its open source (assuming open source is the "process" that you refer to?). i did some scripting on open source basis...and this can hardly be called a "quality product".

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?

sorry for the vague statement. i absolutely agree. i meant that talent (to write great code) does not depend on personal motivation (to do it on an open source basis and for reputation on the one hand or for money on the other). said from the opposite angle, i just wanted to say that not only "for-profit people" are capable of writing good code.

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.

in fact ive been thinking about renaming if-rationality into if-objectivity (in the sense of un-biased/independent). i think this better reflects the task of the if/supervisory board. i agree that there is no single rationality. but one can expect from uninterested (because they dont receive money) academics and other streetsmart people to make such a decision.
Contact: projekt

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