Subject: Re: the economics of software support (slightly off-topic) From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 2000/11/28 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Seth Gordon <email@example.com> | The standard response from the FS/OS camp is "well, how much support | do you get for the closed-source software that you pay for, anyway?" Well, this is a staggeringly unintelligent response, so if somebody actually says this, or it's even "standard", just ignore the idiots. | Technically competent end-users who have wandered through the | tech-support maze at [insert name of any big software vendor here] | will tend to answer "virtually none". You missed the point, dude. Somebody has a legal responsibility when you have paid for support. This isn't about getting answers, this is about who is legally responsible for answering. _Huge_ difference! This point is routinely missed by people who do not have and do not rely on any legal responsibilities. For all this talk about building communities and societies, I find very little realization of what such complex structures need among people who do not have to back their claims with money, which is nothing more than the fruits of one's past success. People bet their spare time, not their lives, on software they give away. It is a luxury, not a necessity. Now, I'm all for being rich enough that luxury is possible, such as art is, but we are not at the point where software artists are recognized as such, in fact everyone wants to come look at the artwork, but not pay for it. The really, really sad part is that even while we have a whole range of software paid for out of people's donated time, it still can't be sold at the normal, healthy profit margins that supports future work -- they all require _more_ donations all the time. I have argued elsewhere that I consider source access invaluable to a programmer's education, just like any other practitioner must have access to prior art, but this is not an argument for it being free. Quite the contrary. We pay our educators in _every_ other field but computer science. Here it is supposedly up to the _educators_ to make sure that the next generation of programmers aren't illiterate and dangerous, not up to the practitioner to get a good education. Our society has yet to recognize the cost of bad code and bad programmers, the way it recognized the cost of bad legal advice, bad medical advice, bad housing construction, bad food processing, bad farming, etc, etc. Free software and open source are _not_ helping -- they are instead free-riders on the ability of some software companies to disclaim all kinds of warranties for their shoddy products. How do we solve the societal need to educate future generations through exposure to real and living source code with the need to make sure that the work people do in software construction and engineering is properly rewarded? I don't know, but I do believe that the more people argue for free, unrestricted, and uncompensated access to other people's work and source code, the further we will be from a long-term solution. #: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.