Subject: Re: "Well, I want to switch over to replace EMACS LISP with Guile."
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 15 Oct 2002 22:02:51 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Johannes Grødem
| Well, yes, it's not always practical, but at least it's possible, unlike
| with proprietary software, where it's essentially impossible.

  This is actually the worst kind of nonsense -- a massive lack of insight
  into business leads people to believe things like this and it is hard for
  them to get out of this mindset over time.

| (At least in the case where you don't have access to the source.)

  Purchase it, contract with the owners to do what you want.

| That it's free means that you can change it, it doesn't mean that you are
| necessarily able to, or that it is practical.

  When it is supposedly free, you believe you have freedoms that you find
  that you actually cannot use because of the restrictions on a number of
  other freedoms that you signed away.  Many people in the business
  community shake their heads in disbelief about the often staggeringly
  misguided ideas that proponents of supposedly free software cling to like
  a religion or an ideology that would crumble immediately upon serious
  contact with reality.  It therefore becomes necessary to avoid getting
  into a position where money can buy you freedom, and this is obviously
  very attractive to young people and students, who have no money and feel
  better in the short term if they believe this is not a situation that can
  be fixed.  The really sad thing is that you do not need to get filthy
  rich to purchase more freedom, but if you give away what other people
  would have been willing to give you something in exchange for, and you
  keep doing this for a long time, you get stuck in that position.  This is
  not good for anyone in the long term.  And we live in the long term.  Had
  we lived in the short term that the supposedly free software community
  favors, dying before 30 would have been the norm.  And unsurprisingly,
  few people "survive" in the free software "market" beyond that age.  Many
  regret all the time they just gave away instead of working for money.

| I thought people understood this, but you've experienced otherwise?

  I have experienced the freedom of doing business, too.  Those who are so
  confused as to believe that the choice is only between "proprietary = I
  can't get at it" and "supposedly free = I can get at it" /completely/
  miss the point.  I was a strong proponent of free software because I
  thought that available source code would be educational and would help
  make programming a real profession by making its products available for
  study by new practitioners in the field, and I worked on Emacs because
  what I had done with it helped me in so many ways.  However, open source
  is not educational -- few people read source code, and what is produced
  is generally of extremely poor quality, providing some evidence that the
  value of education through source code access never materialized.

| Or is your point that the free software movement is trying to make free
| software look better than it really is?

  No.  People who are led by how things appear deserve whatever they get.

  My purpose when writing is not to convince people of my view or to make
  them believe me, but to encourage them to think about something I have
  thought about and to provide me with their thoughts in return.  I believe
  that this is what human communication can do at its best.  The tendency
  to believe things, or worse, people, instead of thinking about what one
  has read or heard, causes nothing but problems.  I tend to get pissed off
  by believers and those who do not want to think because they are afraid
  of being "convinced" of something new, because they are like talking to
  people who are in a coma.  Maybe they can wake up and remember it and
  maybe they have thought about a lot in their comatose state, but that is
  generally a losing bet.  Still, waking them up seems like a good idea and
  making people think does appear to be beneficial no matter how late in
  life they start to think about more than they can believe in, because the
  desire to believe is the worst enemy of independent thought there can be,
  not because people believe in the so-called "irrational" or "mystical",
  on which I have no opinion, but because independent thought has to work
  with ideas and undeveloped thoughts that /should not be believed/ until
  they have been thought about much more and much longer.  So if your first
  reaction is "I do not believe", indicating that you must believe before
  you can proceed, you are in a coma as far as I am concerned.  It appears
  that some people are unable to think about, discuss,or consider things
  possible, if they do not also believe in them to some degree, and thus
  cannot read, cannot listen to, cannot /understand/ arguments that go
  against their beliefs at any given time and primarily respond with "I
  don't believe it", or even less intelligently, "I don't believe you".  I
  still believe (!) that the only way to make people wake up and think is
  to present them with lots of things that are worth thinking about.  Many
  people seem to wake up when there is no way they can remain in a comatose
  state without actually realizing that they have turned themselves off.

  It appears that the belief in the benefits of supposedly free software is
  remarkably resistant to independent thought.

Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway

Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder.
Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.