Subject: Re: What Lisp needs to beat Java, etc. From: Erik Naggum <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 27 Nov 2000 00:11:54 +0000 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <email@example.com> * "Aaron K . Johnson" <firstname.lastname@example.org> | I guess my reply is simply that I'm curious as to why there is such | good software out there for free if the economic model of Open Source | Free Software is so wrong? Why are Linux and FreeBSD so much better | than windows, and cost the price of a CD? The Open Source/Free Software model is not _economic_ in the first place. Money does not even enter the picture. Understanding this is crucial to why people are whining like a presidential candidate about not getting all the stuff they want for free and why people make stuff available for others for free, as well. There _is_ no compensation model for Open Source and Free Software. That is the trick. That is why it _cannot_ succeed economically and financially. To make this fundamentally flawed model succeed requires that Open Source and Free Software be instruments of something else that generates money enough both to fund its own operation as well as supporting the massively loss-making software creation process. Let's put it another way: Money will _not_ get you any Open Source or Free Software. People create software like this because they want to, _not_ because they get paid. Money is a basically a _detractor_ for creative people who want others to use their software and through that become personally visible. It is pretty sad, but money does not offer visibility to someone who is begging for others to notice him. Open Source and Free Software are proofs that computers are alienating in the old Marxist sense and the Open Source and Free Software projects are reactions to this sense of alienation, in order to make the person stand out from the computerized nothingness. Yet another way: If _all_ you have to offer a programmer is money, what he will create for you is not going to be Open Source or Free Software. There has to be personal pride, wide usage, some of that good feeling of having contributed to a community with one's name on the contribution. Money can't buy that feeling. Neither can the feeling be sold. People who need Free Software and Open Source _have_ no money, either. If you have lots of money, it may not be economically feasible to use Free Software or Open Source because of the numerous strings attached to such software, and it may in fact be economically _infeasible_ to use software for which you assume _all_ risks. The question "who you gonna call?" may be _very_ hard to answer in a pinch. Nobody is fully responsible for the product in ways that owned software is. To get a commitment from someone to support you on Open Source or Free Software may well be much _more_ expensive than some regular software product designed to be supported. Very few people are actually aware of these costs until they have to get their business back on track after a disaster of some kind. Free Software and Open Source are _very_ good for hobbyists and in an educational setting where the purpose is to improve your own ability to write better software. I support both for this reason alone. However, production quality code is harder to come by in these communities because there is no incentive to bring the code from functional to excellent. What we get is very high quality "laboratory code", not highly polished systems software that costs at least twice as much to produce and maintain as the former. Some of these things _are_ changing, but we are still years away from a financial model for Open Source and Free Software that rewards people in a way that fits the normal models for return on investment. Wall Street was incredible harsh on the first few attempts, if you recall, and the "business model" of the Internet (dot-com) companies is not exactly being rewarded, either. (Nor should it be.) | Secondly, for what my limited experience and time are worth, I'd be | very open to picking up a shovel and coding in the trenches. Any one | else care to set up a project? Perhaps a web page that agressively | touts Lisp as the strong language of the past, and most importantly | the FUTURE. Why do fail to understand what it means that you need someone else to set up the project for you? This tells everybody with at least half a brain that you need somebody else to provide you with the rationale for using Common Lisp, too, and that you are _not_ a self-starter. Why a _follower_ would whine and complain about not finding relevant _leaders_ is truly beyond me. Usually they just follow whatever they feel like being their leaders. | Yes, I do still think that Lispers need more PR, and the successes | need to be hyped, and momentum needs to be built. I certainly don't | mean to deflate any of you who have devoted so much effort. So thanks. Why do you worry so much about marketing? Is it because marketing is what you are influenced by? Popularity figures count more to people who want to be popular than to people who are quite happy just being good at what they do. Morover, excellence does not _need_ popularity. Popularity is what you crave when you are _not_ excellent. Popularity also _destroys_ excellence. I have this notion that if somebody _wants_ me to like them before I get a chance to know what to like them for, they must be _really_ bad people. Con artists, prostitutes, sleazy sales people, etc, go for that warm, fuzzy feeling where I'm supposed to feel happy about them _instead_ of what they have done and are likely to do. Others harbor the notion that liking other people and being liked is the first and most important property of life on earth. These are likely to rub me the wrong way and go from "don't-care" to "active dislike" in a very short amount of time if they try to force their personal needs on me. I mention this because I actively loath people who seek popularity and judge both things and people by how popular they are. That's not even a second-hand kind of ethics, it's a _statistical_ second-hand ethics. Hyping is lying, basically, and you only engage in that if you have no other way to reach people -- like marketing something people are not very likely to want. Hype and lies and such marketing insult people's intelligence and you only reach people who don't mind it. Why anyone would want to reach such people with an excellent software system is beyond me, but if you see a software product advertised on TV or on big billboards, just don't buy it -- it's some overpriced crap suited for the ignorant mass market that is actually affected by advertising. For Common Lisp to succeed, people only need to use it. That's it, there is no need for somebody else to use it for you to use it. Just do it, yourself. Quit whining, start programming. Write what you miss, contribute. Get paid if you can, write software for free if you can't, but _program_. You improve your chances of getting paid the more you have actually written. Likewise, you improve the chances of Common Lisp being more widely used if you contribute mainly by using it. In the end, working code matters, hype and marketing does not. #:Erik -- Solution to U.S. Presidential Election Crisis 2000: Let Texas secede from the Union and elect George W. Bush their very first President. All parties, states would rejoice.