Outdated example, typo in The Emerging Economic Paradigm of Open Source and other comments & suggestions

I once wrote a long email to Bruce which I never finished and sits in my GMail’s Drafts. I decided to posted here.

Draft saved at Monday, April 17, 2006

Hello Mr. Bruce Perens,

I’ve read word per word your explanation of FLOSS as I’m very interested. I was a volunteer programmer for a jabber client written in Python and GTK (www.gajim.org) and now I’m focusing on my last semester of my compsci undergrad studies. I was and am always interested in things outside of hacking (politics-economics, management, music, cinema) eventhough I easily get considered as hacker.
That small profile I wrote it later to the below text because sadly what follows is a bit big so the intro was begging for sth more to keep you interested (well..). Anyways:

The paper really needs a better example when talking about amazon and nb.com differentiation. See http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&isbn=0130313580&TXT=Y&itm=2 why (Scroll down if you have small screen)

The overhead of the traditional brick-and-mortar retail sales paradigm is extremely high, with the result that less than 10% of the money paid for the software by the end-user actually goes into product marketing, software development, and documentation[7]. Micrsoft spent only 16.8%

Micrsoft is missing an o. I caught this by eye.

from the html source I understand you wrote this straight to html? Anyways try opening your HTML with OpenOffice and hit the MS-standarized key F7 (at least to me MS standarized it :$) to spell check the rest of the document.

Also if you consider providing a PDF version of this document, that would be great. As people very rarely read to the full extend a onscreen document as opposed to a printed version (I’m no expert in this, I know my colleagues all below 22 years old almost never read html documents to full extend)

Also I’ve spotted some ‘can not’ which prefferably should become cannot (http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutspelling/cannot, http://blogs.msdn.com/brada/archive/2004/07/03/172702.aspx)

another problematic (imo) section is where you describe The In-House and Contract Development Paradigm.

first the mixing, it’s cool at first, but then you go and mostly examine contractors and not in house. this to a real-reader is very obvius and annoying.

Especially this:

In general, a contractor will try to use some of the work he does for one customer to leverage his business with other customers by re-selling work that’s already been paid for. How successful he is at this depends on the contract terms and the honesty of the contractor. If your contractor is confident that he can re-sell work he does for you, he might charge you less and you might benefit from some distribution of cost and risk to the contractor and his next customer. However, this is not generally an appropriate scenario for differentiating software: if your contractor is selling your business differentiators, your business could soon be in trouble.

this is 100% false for in-house. So perhaps split them and try to find something about in-house?

in FLOSS you conclude that FLOSS is at least successful as in-house. so I guess you could give a hint in the in-house section that “hey that’s cool too as it works most of the times [as does FLOSS]”

Also in the FLOSS section you say:

In the case of differentiating software, they have little choice but to make use of the in-house or contract development paradigm, because they need to prevent their differentiators from falling into the hands of their competitors. For their non-differentiators, they have the choice of the retail or Open Source paradigms. But which is more efficient?

But which is more efficient? I couldn’t find the for-sure reply in what follows in the same section. was it me and I just overlooked?

some lines above that one reds:

It’s not important to these companies that Open Source does not in itself produce a profit.

then you go to call Business Software Alliance requests as nonsense.
Now it’s clear to me. Companies that produce only or mostly software (eg. MS, Corel, Adobe, Oracle) cannot survive.

This should be super clear in the beggining of the paper imo, but gets reveleaved about in the middle of the document, eventhough you hint before I think it must be more clear that this document is not targeting Software Companies CEOs or whatever but that it’s written for “those CIO/CTO/CEO that cannot stand MS or FOO vedor locking, and would like to still sell there hardware, potatoes or whatever without the need to pay Microsoft so much money”.

This reminds me of MS when they stopped a paper advocating on FLOSS usage in a UN conference. MS said: “Free/Open Source makes it impossible for software companies to make (big) money”. (the big is mine). Apparently you seem to propose that open source core, prop the extension, but that doesn’t work most of the times as the money that come in it’s not worth it (you better try so hard selling shoes in a shop, if you succeed you gain more money instantly)

moving on..

Businesses that require non-differentiating software (really, all businesses) would be well advised to shift some development to Open Source and reap greater economic efficiency.

what do you mean by “(really, all businesses)” ?

I feel that their motivation is similar to that of an artist: just as a painter wants people to appreciate his paintings, a programmer wants to have users who appreciate his software.

well. everyone is saying that. the thing is that artists also happen to sell (or would like to sell). Since you talk to people that put proft first (as you say so) I think the above begs to be rewritten. Your target people will not consider an artist that became successful a sellout, the rest of artists that didn’t (or don’t want to) will consider him a sellout though.

somewhere where you say that most support RH, SUSE, DEBIAN, you point to http://perens.com/Articles/Economic.html#footnote14 which if someone reads it and is a sucessful linux distributor says: “oh thank god LSB failed and continues to fail!” so this again sends contradicting messages. Unless you just describe the current reality which still gives a message of uncertainty.


Nikos Kouremenos
Undergraduate Student, Computer Science, University of Piraeus

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