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open source

Recently there have been 2 threads here which discuss the fact that "coding" or programming is now seen by the management as a "low skill job", and also discuss the fact that developer wages are dropping.

I think that one of the contributors to this perception is the open source movement.

If a manager sees that Linux, AbiWord, Apache, PHP, etc, are free, they think that the software development work is very inexpensive.

Look around you, and tell me which other man-made objects are free.

Maybe, a pen with a company logo was given to you by that company. Maybe you have other promotional items.

But, what do they have in common?

They are low value items!

The same happens to software development. A manager looks around and says:

- Hey! Linux, Apache, AbiWord are all excellent pieces of software, and they cost $0! They must be inexpensive to make, therefore programming work is inexpensive!

- Hey! A bunch of students and people working part-time built Linux, Apache, AbiWord and PHP! Therefore, anybody can do software development - it's a low skill work - or, it may be a medium or high skill work, but the fact is that if people are willing to development software for free, then it's a kind of work we can acquire inexpensively!

John
Monday, December 08, 2003

A more important question: How can managers who are so clueless about software development be in charge of development teams? :-)

Frederic Faure
Monday, December 08, 2003

An even more important question:

What can we do to change the fact that managers who are clueless about IT are in charge of software development teams?

I mean, is there a practical way in which we can accomplish this?

The only practical ways I see are:

* massive lobbying (this is unlikely to succeed, because managers defend and guard heavily their own jobs)

* by becoming managers ourselves, and showing everybody that a software development manager with lots of IT and development knowledge is a much better manager than a clueless PHB

John
Monday, December 08, 2003

Troll.

fw
Monday, December 08, 2003

Yes, it may be a troll.

It is a troll, simply because OSS guys don't like to read such messages.

But tell me one thing: is what I said in the original message true, or false?

Or, maybe it is somewhere in between true or false.

Pause for a moment to think - is it true, or false?

SOME programmers will probably say "It's false - all false, it's 100% false" ... but I belive that the programmers who say it's false have programming skills, but don't have a lot of people / social skills, or lack some real life, real projects experience.

So - in order to evaluate if my original message is true or false, programming skills are not enough - you need to have some people skills - know a bit of psychology, have some life experience.

Many programmers (myself included, at a younger age) don't have this skills yet.

John
Monday, December 08, 2003

You can say that a smart 16 year old can probably code fairly ok, and will probably even be at the level of allot of average programmers.

If you could mask this person as say, working in a remote location etc...and you get this smart 16 year old to be a project manager, I'm sure he'll also be able to do the job of an  average project manager.

fw
Monday, December 08, 2003

Well, if a smart 16 year old can do everything in software development including requirements gathering, business analysis, project management, and software development, then all the people expecting to make a decent amount of money programming should just pack their stuff and go away, right?

John
Monday, December 08, 2003

aha - here's the quote I was thinking of.  From a JOS article "Up the tata without a tutu" (I've no idea what that means and I'd rather not find out) :

"By now I can hear the open-source and free software advocates practically screaming, "you silly goose! just make it open source and be done with it! open source doesn't have any of these problems!" And that's nice. But my wee company with three programmers costs $40,000 a month to operate. So we just charge for our software, and we don't apologize, because it's worth the money. We don't claim to be open source but we can make sure that FogBUGZ is a safe decision to make, by adopting two or three nice features from the open source world."

A cynic writes
Monday, December 08, 2003

bugger - wrong thread - that should be one up in the RMS / ESR one.  whoops.  Mind you it works here too.

A cynic writes
Monday, December 08, 2003

I think whats necessary here is not to bash open source, as I don't think most people would argue that it has brought quite a few benefits.  What we need to do is educate the managers about how open source really gets developed.

--
- Hey! A bunch of students and people working part-time built Linux, Apache, AbiWord and PHP! Therefore, anybody can do software development - it's a low skill work - or, it may be a medium or high skill work, but the fact is that if people are willing to development software for free, then it's a kind of work we can acquire inexpensively!
--

Thats what people think of open source devleopment.  Thats not the way it really works.  Any big successful open source project pays their developers to work on it.  Either some company pays them directly to just work on it (in the case of Linus) or the company uses the tool, and pays their developers to customize it (think IBM) and give the changes back.

KDE employs people, as does Gnome.  Most of the best and biggest open source work is paid for, from what I've seen.

That doesn't mean open source is a fake, it just means people's perceptions about it were wrong.

Andrew Hurst
Monday, December 08, 2003

Name one 16 year old involved in open source development.  Just one.

Most people involved in _bug_ open source development are paid (rather well) to do so.  If this is a big secret to you, consider yourself now duly enlightened.

I suppose the image of millions of starving children huddled amongst a sea of computer terminals jsut waiting to wage holy jihad against the imperialist satan is a scary thought.

Don't lose sleep over it.  We Republicans will keep them properly repressed until, as someone some time ago posted, we can sip them through a straw.  Like eggnog.

hoser
Monday, December 08, 2003

ha -
s/_bug_/_big_

hoser
Monday, December 08, 2003

Romain Guy, author of the well respected 'Jext' text editor, isn't far off 16.

Ged Byrne
Monday, December 08, 2003

The notion that management thinks of programming as low skill because of the existence of free software is probably false.

The OP makes an error in using the word "now".  Although free software has been around as long as computers, the phenomenon of Linux, Apache, etc. being significant business applications is rather recent.

OTOH, the evidence that management thinks of programming as low skill has been around for a long time.  The cubicle is an appropriate work space for a low skill data entry clerk, and management has putting programmers in cubicles for years.  The factory production line is the epitomy of low skill repetitive work.  We were reading articles about how the Japanese were going to establish software factories so they could take over the software markets from the US before we'd even heard of Linus.

I read (part of, going to finish it RSN) a management book written back in the 1950's.  From that I got the impression that management thinks of anything except management as low skill.

mackinac
Monday, December 08, 2003

The "low-skill" tag is also the result of rampant racisms -- it's basically a perception that if someone in a developing nation can do it, therefore it's low skill. Ignore the fact that most coders in Indian code shops are extremely intelligent individuals with extraordinary educations and just imagine that it's just a bunch of savage third worlder's randomly chopping at a keyboard -- now you have the perception that drives the belief that software development is low-skill. Pick up your white robe and hat on the way out.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, December 08, 2003

These 2 threads have been interesting. I never thought of IBM and other companies employing people and giving them time to write "open source" that does compete with MS. I do believe that in this light, it certainly seems unfair. 

Me
Monday, December 08, 2003

You know why you can get both software and pens for free?

Because:
(a) someone else believes that _they_ get value from _you_ using it.
(b) The marginal production cost of each individual item is marginal (as little as a few cents).

There are differences, of course, but I think that's the gist of it.

Funny. It's very popular to direct anger towards open source these days, for reducing the perceived value of programming work. However, there seems to be little or no anger towards, e.g., Microsoft or AOL for integrating many once-valued products into their "base" offering, effectively killing the other competitors.

You may not like the rules; You may try to change them if so.

But if everything's legal, and it makes business sense (and it does, for both IBM wrt Open Source, and AOL wrt Instant Messaging), then -- tough luck. Adapt or die.

Don't let the term "Intellectual Property" confuse you. The law encodes some distribution and use rights for "information" (in the general sense, including recordings, pictures, etc - essentially, anything that can be duplicated without disturbing the original) -- but that information is extremely UNLIKE physical property in any meaningful way.

And just wait until we have molecular construction devices that can construct useful objects from computer instructions (like, a printer that can effectively print a new, working TV set for you) -- everything about property and ownership will be much less clear when that happens.

Ori Berger
Monday, December 08, 2003

s/the marginal cost .... is marginal/the marginal cost .... is negligible/

of course.

Ori Berger
Monday, December 08, 2003

IBM employs people to write, improve and adapt open source to run on their hardware.  How is that unfair?

hoser
Monday, December 08, 2003

If someone wants to pay me to develop source code for them and they want to release it as free or open source software, that is their prerogative. I have no problem with that because I am being paid.

But that never happens.

What happens is peopel approach me and suggest that I join something called "the open source movement" which involves my working on code for free and not being paid. I have never seen what doing so would do for me.

When I want to work for free, I go work for one of the local charities. Sometimes they even pay for my lunch when I do so and I get to interact with nice people face to face. No one is screaming at me or sending me nasty emails or making disparaging remarks about my personal life on a public forum. there is a sense of cameraderie. The cameraderie I see in open source forums is a bunch of geeks waxing lyrical about their superiority over dumb users while the 'dumb users' get ticked off and send angry emails. That sort of comeraderie I can do without.
 
If I joined the peace corps, I work for free but I also get training paid for and a free airline ticket and room and board while I am contributing.

The open source 'movement' does not provide room and board. The open source 'movement' does not have a sense of true cameraderie, or teamwork. The open source movement seems a silly little club of foolish believers in nonsense.

It does work out well for it leaders though does it not? $40 million is a nice chunk of change to get for brainwashing others to work for free. I am not surprised that not one penny of that money was given to the developers who did the actual work. I guess they are suckers, but even so, I feel sorry for them being so foolish.

This doesn't apply to people doing open source while getting a paycheck from the man, of course. That's a fair living.

Tony Chang
Monday, December 08, 2003

Tony, That's very interesting. 

These, people that approach you... do they walk and talk stealthily, wearing non-descript trench coats and wide brim hats?  Do they smoke cigarettes under dimly lit lampposts on street corners.

I've been trying to get a meeting with them for months.  Can you set me up?

lucky
Monday, December 08, 2003

Personally I use gnu/linux not only for servers but also for my desktop (at home, not work), however, I cringe when I hear that microsoft is a monoply, is evil etc.  But then I'm a  laissez faire capitalist and somehow don't feel all these pressures forcing me to buy/use microsoft or even forcing me to use computers.

As I understand it, it might be illegal to sell something at a loss to encourage people to buy products from you rather than your competitor. Some people might say it's not fair. Like the mean Wal-Mart that offers consumers an alternative.

It sounds like IBM and other companies that profit from Open Source are giving away software to encourage people to use their other services/products.

Is that fair?  It doesn't bother me. I was simply trying to think like one of those rabid anti M$ people and,  I guess this was my error, maintain objectivity.

Me
Monday, December 08, 2003

Tony said:
What happens is peopel approach me and suggest that I join something called "the open source movement" which involves my working on code for free and not being paid.

Interesting.  I've never been approached by anyone asking me to do any work for free.  ( Except for the odd feature request to projects I already released for free (GPL), by my own choice. )

I think that you're not understanding what people are saying.  Nobody (outside some slashdot linux zealots) is telling you to quit your job to pursue open source.  They might be saying use open source in your daily job, and release your modifications back as open source.  But not for you to quit your job.

Using open source, writing open source, supporting open source does not mean that you need to be jobless and living in your parents basement.

Andrew Hurst
Monday, December 08, 2003

I'm currently paying a developer to write open source code.  It is a business decision, and it certainly does happen.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Monday, December 08, 2003

I think the extraordinary thing about open source is that so many programmers have been sucked into believing it's a good thing for them.

analyst
Monday, December 08, 2003

BTW, I know of a programmer (not one of those stupid 80% like myself) but one of those top 1% who works at a company and does so under the requirement that he can work on open source projects while at the company. I don't know the explicit details but I know this is true. Also, I don't see how the company profits from open source like IBM and such companies other than they use it considerably. They are really doing the "return to the community"  thing. But one must wonder if some person decided to spend all their time making something and then just giving it away ... where would this work the world of goods and services? I mean, isn't MS vilified vilified for giving away applications with their OS?

Me
Monday, December 08, 2003

Let me see if I can summarise the position of the anti-open source crowd:

"I don't like it, and I absolutely insist that everyone in the world, in a spirit of laissez faire free market competition, will helpfully do what I think will give me the most benefit."

Or is it more like this:

"Teenagers living in their parents basement are giving away high quality products so noone wants to pay me and this is bad, but when Microsoft gives away something that took hundreds of programmers and several years to write, that's absolutely wonderful because while I'm starving and homeless I can still hope to one day work at microsoft writing software that they'll give away for free. Besides, giving software away only hurts the competition when you don't pay the people who wrote the code."

No? Let me try again.

"Open source is bad, mmkay, because it's not what I do and in a true free market noone is allowed to do anything that isn't what I consider to be an acceptable tradition."

Maybe it's a business and financial issue?

"If I have 100,000 shares valued at $10 each, then I have a million dollars in cash that I can spend over and over and over again, so I could buy a hundred million dollar plane by making 100 payments with my infinitely renewable million dollars."

No, that doesn't sound like it would work in the real world. I wish I understood why, because shares are like money that you get to keep after buying stuff, right?


For some reason that I just can't quite explain, something about all of these whiny cry-baby complaints just doesn't persuade me that open source is The Ultimate Evil(TM).

I'm sure there's an amazing number of valid and wonderful reasons why particular people won't choose to have anything to do with open source, and if I couldn't already think of a whole bunch I'ld be happy to ask for suggestions. What I just don't understand is the "I'm a free market laissez faire capitalist and I don't think people should be allowed to do something that's not benefitting my profit margins" idea.

Has anyone ever heard the phrase "adapt or die" ?  No, seriously, if you want to go on about the wonders of the free market, you don't then get to act surprised when you find out that you're one of the people who don't get a free ride.

at least this isn't slashdot
Monday, December 08, 2003

Most "anti-free-software"ers became so because of the unbelievable, pustulent, smelly FUD that billows like a cloud from the open-source fanatics.

Anonymous Cowboy
Monday, December 08, 2003

All the comments here seem to assume that Microsoft offering IE for free was the cause of the anti-trust investigation, anti-MS sentiment with regard to browsers, etc. Maybe this is an example of selective memory on my part, but I thought it was the *bundling* that set things off.  MS presented a less than compelling technical case for the necessity of including Internet Explorer in the OS, and as a Windows end-user, the only thing I see IE doing that another browser couldn't do is accessing Windows Update.

Chris Hoess
Monday, December 08, 2003

Open source software has saved me and mine a 5-6 figure last year; Mostly, but not exclusively, in Microsoft tax, and licensing headaches.

The Samba file and print server handles load much better than Windows equivalent, and never rejects clients or starts complaining that we reached our license cap when we connect a new computer.

The X windows system simplifies a lot of administration headaches, which we can only solve as cleanly with a much more expensive Terminal Server (which, before Win2K3 wasn't even an option) or a Citrix server -- again, without the licensing headaches.

And there are countless other examples. In return, I do my best with what limited time I can afford to support the community - I help others, I submit bug reports, bug fixes and patches, and I evangalize.

Like 90% of all programmers I know, I work on software that isn't shrink-wrapped and isn't (by today's standards) a commodity.

Dear analyst, I am deeply ashamed, but I have obviously been horribly misled. Please tell me what I'm missing.

Ori Berger
Monday, December 08, 2003

Pressed "Post" too soon -

If I develop a program that requires a special user interface, and I develop a special GUI toolkit for it, how does it harm me if I release this GUI toolkit as free software?

Most probably, I'll be receiving ideas, patches, bug reports, documents and occasional rants from users. I wouldn't have made sense to try to market it anyway, but the exposure brings many benefits (if done right).

If my GUI toolkit contains knowledge that would reduce my competitive advantage, then I probably won't release it. However, in 99% of the cases, competitive advantage does not come from the source code. (If Microsoft released the source code for, say, the VC++ compiler or IDE, how would it harm them? You can learn as much from reading the available GCC, OpenWatcom, etc. sources).

To sum up,
If you're not going to sell it by itself, and your competitive advantage does not depend on it, releasing the source risks little harm, and may possibly bring some gains (involvement, exposure, recognition, ...)

Ori Berger
Monday, December 08, 2003

> Open source software has saved me and mine
> a 5-6 figure last year; Mostly, but not exclusively,
> in Microsoft tax, and licensing headaches.

The doctor that works for free downstairs has saved me a lot of money last year.

It doesn't matter that, because he was brainwashed into working for free, he now has a much lower standard of living.

I shall keep encouraging doctors to work for free.


The conclusion of this is:

If you are an admin, a manager or a CEO of a company using open source software, it is in your best interest to get as many programmers to work for free as possible.

But we are talking among programmers here - and what I am saying is that programmers should not work for free - they should refrain from doing so, because it is in their best interest NOT to work for free.

John
Monday, December 08, 2003

"I'm a free market laissez faire capitalist"

This is true.

The rest is words in my mouth. As a free market capitalist, I say that if you want me to write code for you, you're gonna have to pay me for it and it's unreasonable perhaps ridiculous to expect me to work for you for free.

But whenever I say this boy do I get slammed.

Also as a freemarket capitalist, I don't find it in my interest to use the GPL, which is not a 'freedom' license' but a slavery license with it's conditions that work I do that touches it be converted into free labor for the community. That's my right as well. So I am told "so don't use GPL code you bastard" well, exactly that is my point -- I don't use GPL code. "But why not it would save you so much time?" "Because I don't like the license." You facist capitalist! If you don't like it you don't have to use it!" "That's right I don't use it." "But why not?" Because I don't like the license." You facist capitalist! If you don't like it you don't have to use it!" "That's right I don't use it." Because I don't like the license." You facist capitalist! If you don't like it you don't have to use it!" "That's right I don't use it." Because I don't like the license." You facist capitalist! If you don't like it you don't have to use it!" "That's right I don't use it."

Tony Chang
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

"Adapt or die"

This is a perfect example. I am told that I can ADAPT to the Brave New World of Open Source, or I can DIE.

I guess that would be a death threat. Fits in with Stallman's fixation on guns I guess. Well my little buddy, I am neither intimidated nor surprised by your death threats. I will continue to work for pay for as long as it suits me.

Tony Chang
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

I guess Adam Smith was right; "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

While the idea of programmers forming ranks to defend themselves against the threat of lower salaries, fewer job openings, or whatever consequences exactly are supposed to follow from Open Source may play well on this forum:

1) It's not going to work. Between people who have used/volunteered work for an open source project and want to get paid for working on it, and people who just want employment and aren't into grand social manuvers, there are always going to be people who will take jobs that involve developing open source.

2) It will play less well to the general public, which probably does not feel that programmers are morally entitled to enjoy the lifestyle to which they have been accustomed. Especially after the excesses of the dot-com boom, convincing the public at large that programmers are about to go a-begging en masse will be a bit of a chore.

Chris Hoess
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Looks like slashdot, allow me, in turn to summarise the position of those who mock those who dare to question the free software ethos:

"I'm so cool. I can even parrot bits of legalese I pick up and words from Famous People (TM) that make me sound much more important than I really am."

Or maybe it's more like this:

"I can talk about free markets and competition the same way the people with BMW's and big houses do and it implies I'm one of the ones that isn't affected by competition because I'm so good."

David ... David .... DAVID. Your dinner's ready. Come down here right now and stop sending messages to your friends on the internet.

analyst
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Chris,

Was it your experience that the excesses of the dotcom era were a bunch of programmers shafting the public and getting rich itn the process?

My understanding was that, although many programmers were looking forward to getting rich, I know of none personally that did. I do know some stockbrokers who got rich, a number of CEOs who cashed in and then bailed out, and of course, the Chief Economist at Morgan Stanley and the other investment bankers like him made billions. I also know a number of little old ladies who lost their life savings. But I don't see any evidence that it was developers who fucked over those little old ladies. All the evidence I have shows that it was the bankers -- the same bankers and ceos and so on that are now advocating outsourcing, slamming programmers as 'lowskill' worthless jobs. The exact same names. Same faces. Same guys.

But surely you live in a much different world from mine.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Dennis,

I should have been more clear. I don't think most programmers got amazingly rich off the boom; after all, we've been discussing ESR upthread, who went from being a paper millionaire back to "ordinary guy" again, and I'm sure most programmers didn't get a chance to cash out before things went pear-shaped. But from perusing various books on the bubble, there's always a lot of space given to the ridiculous exuberance with which companies spent money on offices, parties, and various extravagances, and I think the "man on the street" is more likely to associate programmers with the partakers in that kind of largesse with other people's money than with Dilbert. Maybe a long spell of outsourcing will blot this out, though.

Chris Hoess
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

"Well, if a smart 16 year old can do everything in software development including requirements gathering, business analysis, project management, and software development, then all the people expecting to make a decent amount of money programming should just pack their stuff and go away, right?"

Only if all smart 16 year olds can. I don't believe that is the case.

There's a limited number of smart 16 year olds who can do that. So long as that remains the case (ie scarcity of programmers), then people can still make money doing it.

Developing nations are a much bigger threat to that scarcity than 16 year olds (whether writing open source or not).

Sum Dum Gai
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

I'm not saying "all programmers should be part of a very powerful programmer union, and we shall raise prices, and force protectionist taxes for programming".

What I am saying, is, simply:


As a programmer, please be a little more aware of how your work and behavior affects the rest of the programmers.

Also, please spread the word about this. Make the people who write open source more aware of these problems.


So - I am not proposing a powerful, evil union, but just some awareness for all of us.

John
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

"Also, please spread the word about this. Make the people who write open source more aware of these problems."


arrogant swine :)

On the whole my experience is that people who work in OSS _are_ perfectly aware of these issues.

they(like myself)  just dont believe that there is actually a problem here.

Only one of us is whinging about life being unfair, and thats you.

grow up, deal with the realities of working life, and stop trying to insist that everyone else care about your inadequacies.

FullNameRequired (Im a closed source developer and owner of my own business, but frankly you lot are embarrassing to read)
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Tony, please read the responses.  A recurring theme in the answers you get in all open source threads is: NO ONE IS ASKING YOU TO WORK FOR FREE. But for some reason you insist that people (?) approach you (?) and ask you to do just that. Well, perhaps they do, but they're not posting in this forum, so find a forum they DO post in, and pick your fight with them there.

Ori Berger
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

There you go again. I keep saying I won't work for free and people keep getting upset with that statement.

Tony Chang
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

"There you go again. I keep saying I won't work for free and people keep getting upset with that statement."

and on that note, _please_ lets allow this thread to die gracefully...

FullNameRequired (Im a closed source developer and owner of my own business, but frankly you lot are embarrassing to read)
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

> On the whole my experience is that people who
> work in OSS _are_ perfectly aware of these
> issues.

I have a little experience with this, and my experience is that they are not aware about what they are doing.

I mean, they are VERY aware about the technical side of what they are doing, how software development will progress, how products will advance, etc.

But they never pause to think a bit about the economic and business matters, too.

And I belive this is a problem.

Yes - the economic and business matters are not as interesting as CS... but in real life, they are more important in some situations - for example, they are very important when you negotiate your salary. :)

So.. programmers as a group should optimize their behaviour in such a way that they have MAXIMUM negotiating strength when they negotiate their salaries.

John
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

To anyone still reading...

Apple is very good at using of open source to help them make money.  OS X runs on top of a BSD, and they are very good about releasing their changes to the base system back to the community (even though the BSD license doesn't require that).  Safari is a GUI wrapper for KHTML.  Most open source projects compile on OS X without much effort, too.

Leveraging open source like this probably does a lot to help Apple stay competitive against what I'm sure is a much much larger Windows operation at Microsoft.

So consider building on top of open source wherever possible as a competitve advantage.  Of course, look at license particulars first to determine what you can and can't do with particular software.  But many open source projects lack polish and usability, which leaves a lot of room for the commercial developer to add value.

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

That was my lame ass comment about "16".

I was suckered into the notion that age has something to do with ability.

I take it back.

hoser
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Quick question for Tony Chang:

You were asked a question, and offered to help for a fair amount of money. That's fine, you're allowed to do that. After all you've only ever learned things from courses and books that you paid for, so why should anyone expect you to help them for free?

So, here's the important question: Just how much money are you paying Joel for access to this website?

I know you must be paying him, because otherwise you'ld be taking advantage of something that someone else has done without paying him for his work and you've eloquently argued that this would be completely wrong, and that people who do this are bad people.

It just seems odd that you're even posting here, because you don't want to give anything away for free, and you don't approve of people who take things that have been offered for free, so just what's the point?

at least this isn't slashdot
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

"my experience is that they are not aware about what they are doing."

Bah.  Again Bah.  What you have experienced is they do not agree with you.  Which is not the same. As this topic comes up so often, I must learn to save these quotes, and time.

- Do you use an IDE, compiler, word process or any predevelop softeare?  Why? 

Using your logic, you put programmers out of jobs.  If each company just developered their own then the development field would increase 10 fold.  Jobs would be plentyful, salaries high, the future bright. 

Really, you want the line just inside of where it benefits you.  You want MS to write software, to make your job of writing software easier.  How self-indulgent of you. 

OSSnotSSO
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Looks like slashdot and OSS ....

There are many things in life that we do without exchanging money, including talking with each other, raising children and volunteering time for worthwhile causes. Our time on JOS falls into the communicating category.

Writing software, on the other hand, falls into the category of something where people would normally be paid. It takes a lot of time, a lot of expertise, is economically useful to other businesses and, indeed, other people proceed to profit from that work.

analyst
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Similarly, to OSS ...,

Using standard tools is part of the job and the work and none of us would see any merit in writing our own compilers, any more than we would in cleaning the office each morning.

That doesn't change the fact that software development is work of a type where - in every other field - people expect and get paid.

Ori, open source people keep saying they're not asking anyone to work for free, but if they're saying to give away the source code, that's exactly what they're saying.

analyst
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Analyst, you and JohnK and everyone else who's so scared of open source act like there are only 2-3 problems that software can solve.

If OSS impinges upon your turf, you have 2 answers: solve it better, and still make money, or solve a different problem. The fact that you'd rather keep charging for solving the same problem over and over does not make OSS bad.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if a college student can solve the same problem that someone with 10 years of experience charges $100/hr for, you clearly aren't providing your customer with very much value for his money.

Frankly, I have a hard time understanding how the world would be a better place if we all had to pay $500 for a web server, instead of downloading Apache. There's so much more money being made by businesses using Apache precisely because it is free than could ever be made off of webservers themselves.

Do you know how much money my company is saving by switching from JBuilder (closed) to Eclipse (open)? $50k! Enough to employ a decent programmer for a year, and that's just for a small development team. OSS is no different from the cotton gin, combine, or calculator. It frees up human effort from mundane tasks (like writing web or app servers, or OS kernels), and allows it to be focused on more profitable and interesting endeavours (like my pharma software).

You won't be able to charge obscene amounts for solving mundane problems, but you will still be able to challenge yourself with bigger, bolder problems to solve.

jason

JasonB
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Jason, our complaints are not based on fear, but on incredulity. We think it's stupid and we're telling other people.

Second, oss is not the only source for platforms and components.

Third, who says we charge obscene amounts?

Fourth, you seem to be arguing that oss benefits you, yet some of the reasons you give are actually ways that it harms you, whether or not it benefits others. Don't you understand that? It's perfectly acceptable for this, by the way. Public good is a fine concept. We all work for a balance. But it is also useful to understand just who the beneficiaries are from each concept.

analyst
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

"So.. programmers as a group should optimize their behaviour in such a way that they have MAXIMUM negotiating strength when they negotiate their salaries."

Only if you accept the idea that maximising salaries is the goal in life.

Not everyone does, some people feel getting maximum enjoyment out of life is the goal (for example). If they enjoy working on open source projects, then it makes sense for them to do so, doesn't it?

Sum Dum Gai
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

analyst,

Your insistence that open source forces programmers to work for free is just plain wrong. People are paid to work on open source out of the profits from software services, or because their employer wants a feature implemented and thinks that releasing the code they wrote to the community is easier than maintaining a fork, or any number of reasons. Whether or not these methods provide enough revenue to compete effectively with software funded by "selling the bits" is rather up in the air, but your claim is an untruth. I'm also curious as to whether you have any non-circular reasoning to support your rather tortuous distinctions between when we should and shouldn't make extra work for programmers and what things in life we're allowed to be altruistic about.

Chris Hoess
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

>" But they never pause to think a bit about the economic and business matters, too.

And I belive this is a problem. "<

There is definitely a problem here, but perhaps not the one you're thinking of.

Joel has noted and it has been occasionally discussed here that there seem to be some people who just are missing the part of the brain that understands pointers.  There also seem to be people who are missing the part of the brain that has more than a zeroth order understanding of economics. This is more dangerous than not understanding pointers.

The argument being presented here, as I understand it, is that the availability of free software lowers the demand for programmers and thus their salaries.  The zeroth order analysis says "everything else being held constant" and assumes that the businesses that buy software are only going to obtain a fixed amount and if they get some free they'll just save that money.

In real life there is no way you can hold everything else constant.  Businesses are going to spend money to maximize return on investment.  Some businesses may spend less, others may find that the reduced cost per unit of software is lowered enough that they'll spend more.

The net result is that demand for programmers may go up or it may go down, but I don't think you can make any conclusions from the poorly argued statements against OSS in this thread.

Z
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

"Just how much money are you paying Joel for access to this website?"

A fair question and one deserving of an honest answer. It's a remarkable coincidence, but Joel is recieving from me exactly the same consideration that I am recieving from the 42,000+ separate registered users who use the 114 different web logs and forum sites that I have set up in the last 5 years.

Tony Chang
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Yeh, well, it's funny, Z, but the economics profession in general sides with the view that open source programmers must be idiots.

analyst
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

"Yeh, well, it's funny, Z, but the economics profession in general sides with the view that open source programmers must be idiots. "

I would be interested in some references to support this claim if you have a few links to send along.

A Google search on "economic analysis of open source" returned about 3E+6 hits, the first of which contained this statement in its abstract:

"...We argue that the particular way in which open source projects are managed and especially how contributions are attributed to individual agents, allows the best programmers to create a signal that more mediocre programmers cannot achieve. Through setting themselves apart they can turn this signal into monetary rewards that correspond to their superior capabilities...."

They really don't seem to be saying OSS programmers are idiots.  But it is only one opinion, and I haven't read the whole thing yet.

Z
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

That refers to the better programmers within the open source space, providing signals relative to the less capable in the open source space. It doesn't refer to all programmers.

Also, many open source studies make similar claims, but they're not necessarily claims of professional economists. It's become a sort of accepted part of the analysis of open source, but that is starting to change.

analyst
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

" It doesn't refer to all programmers."

so we are looking for a truth that applies for _all_ programmers, everywhere?

thats throwing the net a little wide, dont you think?

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

You just pull this shit out of your ass.  Do you actually think anyone believes it?

hoser
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Should have prefaced my blurb "analyst,".  FullName snuck in there.

hoser
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Wait a minute. I thought the consensus from the other thread was that the less capable programmers were screwed by outsourcing anyway.

So what does it matter if open source will screw them over?

Sum Dum Gai
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

(Quoting analyst)
> Fourth, you seem to be arguing that oss benefits you, yet some of the reasons you give are actually ways that it harms you, whether or not it benefits others. Don't you understand that? It's perfectly acceptable for this, by the way. Public good is a fine concept. We all work for a balance. But it is also useful to understand just who the beneficiaries are from each concept.

Frankly, I see closed source as a form of protectionism, and I think your arguments support that. You want to protect yourself at any cost, regardless of how that will affect society. My argument is that OSS will benefit society as a whole, and is quite survivable by programmers.

This whole debate is really just another angle on outsourcing, subsidies (steel, agriculture) and the like. Just as in those other areas, benefiting the few harms everyone else more. Some steel workers may be out of work because the tarrifs were lifted, but the American and world economies are better as a result. OSS is the equivalent of an intelectual free trade pact that helps everyone in the end.

jason

JasonB
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"This whole debate is really just another angle on outsourcing, subsidies (steel, agriculture) and the like. Just as in those other areas, benefiting the few harms everyone else more. Some steel workers may be out of work because the tarrifs were lifted, but the American and world economies are better as a result."

Excellent point. Indeed this whole "capitalist" model has got to go, because hell if I'm paying $300 for a processor that was made with about a pennies worth of sand, or $15 for a CD, or $20 for a DVD (it cost them $100 million to make the movie, but that doesn't matter to me because the DVD only cost them pennies). What is the deal with doctors charging for their services, or medicine not being free for everyone (let the whole R&D thing sort itself out-- the aliens will provide the technology).

I am fascinated by your communist bullshit ideas. How can I sign up for your newsletter?

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Dennis, I think we just moved into bizarro land. When did free trade become communist?

I'm positing that people who oppose open source because it (supposedly) lowers their salary are functionally eqivalent to those who oppose free trade because they might have to face foreign competition. Giving consumers a similar but cheaper alternative is threatening to many people, even if society as a whole would benefit. Where is the communism in that?

jason

JasonB
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

So, let's apply this reasoning to all fields: doctors, lawyers, and other professions!

All professions have activities that can be commoditised using a process similar to open source and a license similar to the GPL license, but aren't yet commoditised.


For example, there could be a law which allows anybody to work as a lawyer.

Then, some lawyers could start writing law books, legal advice books, contract templates with full explanations, etc and distribute them for free, under the GPL license.

Voila - many people will now be able to give legal advice. As in the case of programmers, some will be more competent than others.

I can argue that this will benefit society as a whole.


Do you think that lawyers would agree with the proposal above?

No!

Then, why do programmers agree to similar things, and not only agree, but embrace and promote them?

John
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The ideals of OSS, as espoused by many OSS advocates and Mr. Stallman himself, are taken directly from the writing of Marx. You veered down this path yourself when you commented that it's all for societal good, etc.

Having said that, I personally have no opposition to "free" software/OSS -- I'm not even remotely as polarized as say John, and I actually have another machine beside me running Mandrake 9.2, and I'm typing this post on Mozilla 1.4.

Having said that the free/OSS community is guilty of FUD to the levels that Microsoft could only dream of accomplishing.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"The ideals of OSS, as espoused by many OSS advocates and Mr. Stallman himself, are taken directly from the writing of Marx. You veered down this path yourself when you commented that it's all for societal good, etc."

There does seem to be some disagreement between Stallman and other OSS advocates.  If you read ESR's home page you find that he is explicitly libertarian, something I had already guessed from his other writing.

In any case, free market advocates, starting with Adam Smith,  claim that such an economic system promotes the general welfare.  The charges that JasonB's postings are "communist bullshit" is a bit confused on the issue.

Z
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

JasonB's specific comment that caught my eye was "I see closed source as a form of protectionism". It wasn't "I see the suppression of open source by closed source evangelists as a form of protectionism", but rather a specific indictment of the closed source business model (which by extrapolation logically also indicates an opposition to intellectual property, patents, copyrights, R&D secrecy, etc). Such a comment is absolutely founded on communist principals that it's better that you have no protections over your own creations, such that closed source provide, because it's for the better good if all sortware is open source.

That has absolutely NOTHING to do with a free market, and such a proclamation is a red herring at best.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

=>JasonB's specific comment that caught my eye was "I see closed source as a form of protectionism". <=

But that wasn't the section that you quoted.  Now that you have clairified that your comments make more sense.  The section you quoted appeared to be critical of protectionism, not closed source specifically.

The original point of this thread was to promote protectionism for programmers.  If they can get legal protection against competition, then they can maintain higher salaries than they might otherwise get.

There are additional issues to consider.  Protectionism results in economic inefficiencies, you need to be sure that you are protected but others aren't.  And the higher salaries will reduce demand, so the mediocre programmers won't get higher pay, they'll be out of work.

Z
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Clearly, I misspoke in claiming that all closed source was protectionism, when I meant to say that attempts to protect closed source from open source competition was tantamount to protectionism.

Nevertheless, don't forget that Thomas Jefferson himself was not a big fan of intellectual property, and I don't think we'd call him a communist.

Regardless, I write vertical, closed source applications as my job, using open source tools (the best of both worlds!), so I certainly don't agree with RMS. I do think that commoditizing "staple" software is good, though.

As to the argument about lawyers and doctors: if we could make all health care in the world free, I have a hard time seeing how that could ever be bad.

jason

JasonB
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

analyst writes: "Also, many open source studies make similar claims, but they're not necessarily claims of professional economists. "

True.  So what? They're not necessarily claims of professional economists, but they might be.  I don't have details on the authors of the paper I quoted except that one of them holds named chair at a university in Frankfurt.

Your earlier post made a claim about what professional economists were saying.  Please post some references.

Z
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

=>if we could make all health care in the world free, I have a hard time seeing how that could ever be bad.<=

Oh, please be careful how you say that.  In some countries health care is free, as in free lunch.  And we all know TANSTAAFL.


And here is the home page of one of the authors whose article I quoted.  Is he a professional economist?

http://www.wiwi.uni-frankfurt.de/~maweiss/

Z
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Z,

I'm not trying to make an arguement for socialized medicine or anything like that. I'm just saying that if we could replicate cars, houses, food, health care, or whatever in the same way we can replicate software, "open source" cars/houses/whatever would be a huge boon for humanity.

jason

JasonB
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"I'm not trying to make an arguement for socialized medicine "

Yes, I understand that.  That's why I said "be careful" about what you're saying, lest someone come up with a different interpretation.

Z
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Z, I'm not going to post URL's to professional economists or papers. It's a big field and topic not suitably conveyed with a few URLs on JOS.

Also, by doing that I would be disclosing my research material so you or someone else could benefit from it, and I'm not doing that.

analyst
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

JasonB, the problem in your arguments is that you cite benefits to others as benefits to yourself.

Free medicine and free legal care would indeed be terrific but it just doesn't happen, and we know why, don't we. It's because the lawyers, doctors, hospitals, nurses, drug companies have to get paid.

JasonB, your enthusiasm for this line or arguing tells you've been developing for about three years? Yes? (Going out on a limb.)

analyst
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

analyst, face it. You're full of shit.

You've got nothing to show, no verifiable research to back up anything you've posted.

hoser
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"JasonB, your enthusiasm for this line or arguing tells you've been developing for about three years? Yes? (Going out on a limb.)"

If you can't beat 'em, ad hom 'em. That's what I always say. ;)

Sum Dum Gai
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

hoser, they usually say that those who resort to swearing are the ones with weak arguments. For which you qualify.

As with JasonB, you use terminology that suggests little experience with research. The fact that I decline to display research in progress is not a pointer to a lack of research at all.

analyst
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"analyst, face it. You're full of shit."

Ummmm, hoser, let's not degrade the discussion too much here.  The meaning of his posting was clear and the significance of his posting on what professional economists think can be adequately described by this web page: http://www.k12.com.cn/student/campus/english/viewcontent.php3?aid=193

Z
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"Also, by doing that I would be disclosing my research material so you or someone else could benefit from it, and I'm not doing that."

Well, you'ld get the benefit of actually being taken seriously.

Besides, you can't post those URLs - every last one of them is a subscription only site, because you'ld never use work that someone else had done without paying them, just like you don't want anyone reading your wonderful research without paying you.

Er, that's odd. You didn't actually mention that detail, and I know for a fact that the web is full of economic research papers that can be read for no charge. Something just doesn't add up.

It's almost as if mr analyst likes to profit from the work of others without paying them, but wants everyone to pay him.

What was that someone said earlier about drinking wine while preaching water?  Damn, closed source fanatics are as happy to do that as open source fanatics. Who would have expected that?

at least this isn't slashdot
Thursday, December 11, 2003

No, the point is that the work is not finished. It is standard practice not to distribute unfinished work. In any case, there is stacks of material if you want to do your own search.

analyst
Saturday, December 13, 2003

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