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Re: [ProgSoc] software and food recipes
On Thu, 10 May 2001, Matt wrote:
> On Thu, May 10, 2001 at 04:39:20PM +1000, James Wan wrote:
> you're statement here is based on the assumption of scarcity. in the
> intellectual realm there is no such thing as scarcity. if i tell you
> something i know i dont suddenly cease to know it. knowledge is not a
> zero sum gain system. so therefore holding back something you know
> from other people is either a) greedy or b) childish. in the greedy
> case it is because you could share and not lose anything but instead
> choose to withhold from other so that you might benefit from their
> ignorance. or in the second case its because you are childish and
> would not want to share with others even though it does you no harm
> because it makes you feel self important that you know something that
> others don't.
Ah, this is ridiculous. Everyone is keen to label the troll, but then
reaffirm their own positions with equally simplistic assertions.
Summary: the argument that you don't lose anything by sharing knowledge is
Incidentally, as someone has already pointed out, the analogy with cookery
is flawed, and fairly clearly fatally flawed, because it's very difficult
to make a molecule-for-molecule copy of a biscuit, but very easy to make a
byte-for-byte copy of a program. However, to run with the analogy for the
moment, it falls down at Matt's statement. Many restaraunts and chefs
pride themselves, are popular due to, and make a lot of money out of their
secret recipes. If all my friends starting cooking spinach and ricotta
cannelloni the same way I do (say, for example, they start reading the
back of the same sort of cannelloni box), I would be forced to innovate to
stay a popular cook. If I don't share the recipe (let's assume it's mine),
then only I can make "Nicholas' cannelloni" - the closest everyone else
can get is "probably Nicholas' cannelloni".
If you're trying to build a reputation on food, the difference between
"authentic" and "probably" is quite important. However, this difference
does not apply to software in nearly the same way. Once the first word
processor has been written, then every word processor out there, once
it satisfies a set of base-level requirements, is interchangeable with
(Microsoft has succeeded in making on of those base-level requirements
"must read and write .doc files". Good for them, but a different topic.)
> personally once you remove yourself from the situation and only leave
> humanity in general in the equation i dont see how you could conclude
Given that humanity is a whole big bunch of "personally"s, I'm not sure
what you're getting at. To attempt to "remove yourself from the situation"
is to attempt the impossible.
Now, the reason you can share recipes, and source code, and anything else,
and still expect to be popular - and more so than the competition - is
because things really aren't as clear-cut as sharing cannelloni recipes.
Eventually someone is going to produce something as good, or better. Great
chefs... but I'm going to get away from the food analogy. Great *coders*
don't base their reputation on a single bit of software. Great coders -
great anybodies - are the adaptable ones. They're people who can take a
piece of software, or engineering, or art, and build from it, and make
something different. Linux 2.0.0 was fantastic, but is now irrellevant.
And here's where the argument in favour of the GPL comes in. Everyone's
got the code, so there are a great many people who are hacking on it, and
playing with it, and thinking of things to add to it. And if the
originator of the code is any good, he or she will be able to maintain it,
and will still know the code better than anyone else, and will still be
Unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, and as even the most ardent GPL
enthusiast here has alluded to, the hard part of code isn't in the
writing, it's in the idea itself. Alister (I think) could produce a "good
enough" (or possibly better) implementation of a recipe he sampled in a
restaurant because the hard part wasn't in the heating, or the mixing of
the ingredients, it was in the type of ingredient and their relative
quantities. It's the inspiration, not the gruntwork that comes afterwards.
If you have a great idea for a user interface, or a messaging system, or a
media player, then Microsoft doesn't have to see your code. "Protecting
software freedoms" is moot. If you have made your idea public, you have
made it expoitable.
*Sigh*. I wish people would stop GPLing things and start putting them in
the public domain. The whole "You can use my code but you can't hide your
modifications" thing is a ridiculous attempt at selfishness in a cloak of
generosity. I tend to ignore people on the street who try and convince me
of similar things.
How many people would want to hack on a bit of software if the terms of
the license went thusly?
1. You may not redistribute this software or any derived work unless it is
distributed under this license.
2. If you create a work based on this software, you are required to vote
Liberal in the next election.
Or perhaps more invasively:
3. If you create a work based on this software, you are required to attend
Dr. Love's indoctrination sermons for twelve months.
Before dismissing the above, consider. People who attempt to co-opt the
GPL (and the GNU philosophy) as a political ideology are mistaken - not to
mention that they have very little to work with. However, the GPL as a
moral code is indisputable. Seeing otherwise open-minded people enforce
their own moral system in a legally-binding way, doing, in fact, the exact
thing they would deride if it were reflective of any moral system but
their own, is personally very disturbing.
You wouldn't attempt to force people to accept your religion. Why attempt
to force people to accept your (unpopular, relatively speaking) system of
social ethics? Go the whole way. PDify your code today! :-)
Actually, RGB is the basis for many modern colour systems as well.
- "outrage98", slashdot.org discussion
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