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Mass Market Busking - The Inevitable Economics of Software

By TheDullBlade in Culture
Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:09:28 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

Here's the abridged (by popular demand and threat of lynching) version of my full-length essay on the economics of free software supported by donations.

In a Nutshell: Releasing your intellectual property into the public domain and asking for donations can be profitable, if you do it right. In fact, the intellectual property trade already works this way, but poorly because nobody seems to recognize it.


Mass Market Busking - The Inevitable Economics of Software

Summary

"Mass market busking" means providing some product or service to everyone who wants it, regardless of ability or willingness to pay, but requesting that the users pay whatever they think appropriate.

The payoff for the users who pay is not direct, but it is material, not just moral. They don't immediately get a product that would otherwise be withheld from them, but because they establish that they will pay someone who creates things they like, it will then become a good business decision to create such things. It is a simple matter of supply and paying demand: when people are willing to pay for a product, there will be a proportional willingness to expend money and effort in supplying the product.

Buskware is a subset of mass market busking, which means producers of digital information products (everything from computer programs to recorded music and movies) allowing their audience to freely distribute these products in return for the audience freely paying whatever price they think appropriate.

Buskware is the simplest and most efficient way for producers and their products' users to exchange control over what is produced (and how it is used) for money.

The 5 fundamental principles of buskware:

  1. People generally act in their own best interests, in so far as they understand the consequences of their actions.
  2. Users want control over the producers.
  3. Producers want to be paid by the users.
  4. Computer data is eternal and practically costless to reproduce and distribute, so individual copies needn't be treated like physical objects which each have a cost to the producer.
  5. Copying and distribution of data on other people's computers can't be controlled or prevented by the producer, any more than the originator of an idea can control who learns it.

Mass market busking has the advantage for the producer of lowering costs by eliminating the need for advertising and other means of convincing customers to pay for something they have not yet seen, as well as removing the need for the whole traditional distribution system, from wholesale to retail. It is good for the users because the producers can have no intention except to make products that the user will enjoy and/or find useful; not to make products that merely appear valuable to the user, nor to make the least expensive thing that will produce advertising revenue. It makes the whole process honest, and aligns the self-interest of each party with the benefit of the other.

While adequate tools for selling software over the internet don't yet (and might never, depending on how you define "adequate") exist, tools for sending donations are entirely adequate. E-Gold is the one I use as an existence proof (there may well be others out there, and certainly will be in the future, but I haven't found them).

Introduction

In these days of massive unauthorized copying and unfunded development, the traditional income model of withholding access to software for lack of payment is inefficient and unrealistic. Legal restrictions on copying can't be enforced by any government that respects privacy and private property.

I've had friends who like to copy the FBI warnings at the start of VHS tapes, and laugh at the scary punishments. The warnings could say "If you even think of copying this, your family will be enslaved for 10 generations and you will be broken on the wheel." and they'd just laugh harder. Nobody actually faces those penalties, at least not a significant percentage. They don't care about the penalties for the same reason they don't care what the grand prize in the lottery is - it's less likely than getting struck by lightning out of a clear sky.

Regardless, today's consumers buy more recorded music, video tapes, video games, etc. - and generally at higher prices! - than in the past. Piracy is rampant, yet sales have never been better... how can this be? People aren't irresponsible, they do ask themselves "what if everybody did that?" They know perfectly well that if nobody paid for these things, they wouldn't exist.

Oh, they might not express it that way. They're more likely to say, "That would be stealing." than "I'm protecting my future supply," but the end result is the same.

"Buskware" and Other Words

I'm going to stretch the term "software" a bit to include anything that can be stored as computer data: not just computer programs, but web pages, movies, music, novels, textbooks, etc. It is all "soft" in the sense that it has no independent physical existence. I used to refer to this class of things as "intellectual property", but this label is inaccurate, as it is not always property. This definition of "software" is the "ware" in buskware.

Software works by different economic rules than physical products: once created, the inherent cost of reproduction and distribution to the producer is nil; only when the producer seeks to control reproduction and distribution does it cost him anything. It logically follows that "distribution" costs are actually control costs. The traditional term "consumer" is not appropriate, because the end-user does not consume the product, he only uses it; accordingly, I will use the terms "producer" and "user" rather than "producer" and "consumer".

Why You Should Pay

Very simply, those groups which pay will get better stuff. Profitable enterprises will give the producer-recipient a motive and the resources to produce more, and encourage productive competition for your payments.

It's like choosing to vote. Your choice, as an individual, is rarely important, but your choice as a member of a group of like-minded people is extremely important. In a sense, when you choose to vote or to pay buskware producers, you are making the choice for everyone who shares your opinions relevant to the choice.

The group has resources, desires, and a reputation. The pool of producers will respond to the desires of the groups which build good reputations through generous payment from their own resources.

How Much You Should Pay

It is a clear absurdity for anyone to be "unable to afford" something that can be produced for essentially no cost. Equally absurd is to charge less than a person is willing and able to pay, yet this is practically the only circumstance under which commercial software is sold (if the price is higher than an individual person is willing and able to pay, then there is no sale; the case where the price is the exact maximum that the buyer will pay is rare to the point of insignificance). Shareware is as unsatisfactory a solution to the payment problem as commercial software because of this (although it does improve the distribution).

I can't give you a simple formula because there are too many variables: wealth of the user, value to the user, likelihood and desirability of related future development, funds available to the producer, and so forth.

Clearly, people with more money should pay more, not in some egalitarian-socialist way "because they can afford it," but because it's in their best interests as it makes them more important to the producers. Give a hundred times as much as the typical user, and you will have a hundred times as much influence; ten people who spend $10000/year on buskware will be listened to as carefully as a thousand people who each average $100/year.

Do you want something specific from the producer? Send a note about what you want, with a generous donation. The more influence you want, the more you should send.

As a guideline, though, you will probably have to spend at least 1/3 of what you spend on software now, carefully distributed, if you want buskware that replaces traditional software. I would very roughly but conservatively estimate that 2/3 of software price are made up of retailer markup, middleman markup, distribution costs, reproduction costs, promotion costs, intellectual property policing, and all the other things that don't benefit the user in the slightest way. Associated practices, such as component sharing, could further reduce the cost of development and increase the quality.

When You Shouldn't Pay

The most obvious and best reason is: you didn't enjoy the works of the producer, or find them useful, and you don't see any potential for them to develop into something worthwhile if only they were better funded. You certainly don't want to encourage bad work. <p"They have enough money" is a valid reason, sometimes. Remember, the buskware concept is based on self-interest. There's no need to make a billionaire of the author of your favorite amusement when making him a multi-millionaire will do and there are other producers who may be a bit less interesting but still worth supporting, and in greater need. At the same time, being too stingy and just allowing producers to scrape by will kill the whole buskware concept and push us back into the less efficient systems. If the most talented people can't get rich from buskware, they'll go do something else. Besides, useful companies should grow; if 3 people build a great game in their garage, don't you want to see what they can produce with ten million dollars and a large staff of artists? Plenty of great companies were founded on a shoestring, but none is likely to hang around on one for long.

Be very careful not to go too far down this path. There have to be disproportionate rewards in the mass market, because it's such a harsh and risky place. Even with the open distribution allowed by the internet, not one in ten mass market entrepreneurs will turn a profit, and unless one in a thousand gets rich, there won't be any reason for talented individuals to participate. It should be a harsh place, you shouldn't waste a million people's time with anything less than the best, but it should also offer great rewards to those who can offer the best.

In general, you should not pay before you've thoroughly examined and tested the product through use and it has demonstrated its value to you. When you are very enthusiastic about a new product, exercise some restraint and just give a little, if long-term use shows it to be as useful as you thought it was, you can always give more. If it turns out to just look useful, you can't decide to grab your money back later.

Don't give money to people who don't ask for it. Remember that you're buying control; if they don't indicate their willingness to respond to these payments and record them for their potential competitors to learn about, you aren't getting anything for your money. Some - strange creatures! - would even be offended.

Remember that influencing one particular producer is not as important as producing the general condition that anyone who makes a product that you like gets rewarded. This is influence over the whole industry.

How To Make Money With Buskware

Give your product away, placing few or no restrictions on redistribution, and ask for whatever payment the user thinks is appropriate. Ignore all comments, requests, complaints, etc. that are not accompanied by money, and pay close attention to the ones that are. Look at the bottom of this essay for an example of a buskware notice.

I prefer the simplicity of releasing my products into the public domain. The existence of a central website from which I make all my new releases is enough guarantee of credit for me, and I have no objection to people making any kind derivative works. It is in the best interests of people who make derivative works for them to encourage me to produce more, just as it is for the end-users. Annoyingly, there are large amounts of valuable code available under mutually incompatible "free" licenses, making a lot of useful integration illegal.

If you just want to get your toes wet, try releasing some of your older products as buskware, ones that you don't distribute or don't bring in a profit anymore. It won't cost you anything, and sensible users would pay you to encourage you to release the rest of your old software and your new releases as buskware.

If you are already a free software producer, you truly have nothing to lose by making it buskware. Why not give it a try?

Taking Control

You can't just hang back and wait for buskware to get going. Major software producers aren't likely to just jump right in because someone mentions the idea. First, the user-donors must establish the general belief that there's money in it. This might involve breaking a few of the rules that will make sense later on.

For the user-donor: set aside a fixed sum of money that you will spend on buskware each month; it doesn't have to be a large amount. Spend it on the most worthwhile buskware you can find, but spend it all, even if it doesn't seem entirely worth supporting. In this early stage, your goal is to establish that buskware pays, establishing that only good buskware pays will be easy enough later on.

However, it should not be hard to find worthy buskware producers, if you break another rule and pester people who produce freely available software as a public service to take the money you're trying to shove into their hands.

There are also methods for the producer-recipients...

Selling Control

The fundamental action of capitalism is: capital is invested to create product, which is offered for sale, hopefully resulting in profit. However, these simple transactions are not always the most attractive. Variations on these basic themes are offered: renting, leasing, financed purchase, timeshares, etc. can substitute for sales, and there is a similar diversity of methods for sharing the risk of investment.

Similarly, the fundamental actions of mass-market busking are: product is created and shared freely to the public in the hope of attracting donations, and the public donates freely to those producers whose work they enjoy in the hope of encouraging further production. However, this might be a hard sell, unless and until the idea is firmly embedded in our culture. To get the ball rolling, there are things you can do to sell control more directly.

The Street Performer Protocol is one such method. In this one, the product is released in installments, and the threat is made that the next installment won't be released unless a certain quota of donations is met. The only problem here is that payments are likely to drop off sharply once the quota is met. Stephen King is trying something similar to this, though he is making the mistake of fixing the price per user. It's a very good idea for things that are easily seperated into installments.

The FlyingRat service, when used as the only means by which the producer can be communicated with and influenced, is another. It only allows you to send email if you pay a certain price. If someone wants to complain about a bug or request a new feature, they have to pay you for the privilege. This method can be improved by having different priority levels with different prices ($0.50 - "it'll get to me", $5.00 - "I'll read it", $50 - "I'll reply", $500 - "I'll do definitely something about it").

A more elaborate variant of the same method would be to have a discussion group, where people can spend money to promote one message or thread over another, to show you which areas you should be concentrating on.

The problem with all of these methods is that they draw attention away from what should be the primary focus (influencing the whole industry) on to just considering the effect on this particular producer. However, this might be a good tradeoff in some cases.

Component Sharing: the Icing on the Cake

Much has been written on the value of open source computer software, so I won't go into that, except to say that there is clearly more value in software for which the sources are available, and in mass-market busking, more value for the user should translate into more income for the producer.

What I really want to talk about is extending this to include all information products. This means unmixed tracks from music, the model files from the CGI special effects in movies, storyboards, sound effects, scripts, etc. Everything, release it all into the public domain.

If you are creating your own work from scratch, you aren't competing with people who cobble together their own Frankenstein's monster from bits of other people's work. They will be recognized and treated as the second-rate works they are, like the fanfics and parodies of today. In any case, it is the users' responsibility to ensure their money is going to promote the producers that benefit them; there's no reason they would pay more to the group that put the pieces together than to the group that made the pieces.

The same direct benefit applies: more value means more income, and it really doesn't cost anything. The real benefit, though, is in developing the industry. It will become much easier for newcomers to learn the ropes when they can see how everything was done, and get some practice fooling around with good quality components.

Eventually, your audience will come to expect you, and all your competitors, to release components. When somebody doesn't, there'll be complaints and protests and boycotts, and it'll all add up to less income for him.

Who Really Creates Value?

Consider operating systems: why does the mass market favour one operating system over another? It isn't for superior features of the operating system, those are mostly the concern of the software developers, not the users. The users choose an operating system for the applications available on it. Even the applications are often chosen for compatibility.

Clearly, the main value of an operating system is not in the operating system, but in the software available for it, and much of the value of the software is not inherent either, but in who is using it.

This sets up the economically damaging situation of one entity controlling access to value it doesn't create, like a corrupt gatekeeper who only lets people go through when bribed.

The customers know it: they hate paying the gatekeeper to get at what someone made on the other side, especially when the gatekeeper recognizes that demand and charges whatever the market will bear. Direct competition from one product can't fight it, a large segment of the industry must simultaneously make the effort to move to the new platform.

This phenomenon is not limited to computer software, though. Everything from game systems to popular music derives much, if not most, of its value from its popularity.

While it is very profitable to become a successful gatekeeper, it is something that happens by luck, not by design or special skill. The great Microsoft empire was founded on clumsy legal work by IBM, when they commisioned and did a lot of the work of creating MS-DOS but didn't secure any exclusivity agreements.

You can, however, take away the gatekeepers' advantage, so you can compete with them and avoid paying them, by releasing freely redistributable products which can never be used to extort money for the privilege of benefitting from the efforts of 3rd parties. People prefer to produce the added value when they know that nobody is going to stand between them and their users demanding a toll. Look at Linux, for example: there's much more free software for Linux than there is for Windows (and much of it portable to any Unix system), partly because the developers want people to be able to access their product without having to pay Microsoft.

Big as the advantages might seem to try to get rich by controlling access to the work of others, there is no reason for the consumers to allow you to do so. A buskware product designed for the same role will be preferred for the obvious reason that users hate gatekeepers, and the redistributable nature of buskware makes it impossible to use it to take this role.

The Corruption Inherent To Advertising

Advertising is manipulation. When a product is paid for by advertising included within it, the producers are no longer working for the users - they are working for the advertisers. Advertising has its strongest effect when it is more interesting than the content it is embedded in. Television is at its most profitable when it is just barely interesting enough to keep people watching, often through some promised revelation ("Tonight on the news: A terrible new threat to our nation's children. What is it? We'll tell you some time in the next hour!"), so the ads are a welcome break from the show.

Advertisments rarely provide objective, useful information. They frequently mislead and often outright lie. While a rational, wary mind can easily ignore the ridiculous claims of advertisements, and recognize their hostile, manipulative intent, advertisments are usually targeted at people who are trying to relax and be entertained when their minds are least likely to be carefully filtering out bad information (even worse is when it invades spaces where it is not expected, to catch the eye and mind of the unwary).

Advertisers are as much an enemy of the industries they work for as the consumers they try to manipulate. When you're competing against a massively advertised product, it's not enough to merely make a better product or have a lower price, you've got to advertise as much or more than they do. For example: look at the 1-800-collect campaign, versus the 1-800-callatt service. 1-800-callatt could make the simple and true claim that they were always cheaper than 1-800-collect, and obviously nobody should have bothered with their competitor. However, they didn't spend nearly the advertising budget, and 1-800-collect carried on with their massive campaign, and continued to survive despite offering an identical service for more money, when both were available from any phone and equally easy to use (I have no idea whether this is still the case). Like soldiers and lawyers, you need to have as many or more advertisers than those who oppose you, and have little other purpose for them.

While advertising tries to solve the same problem as mass-market busking (denial of access until paid is impractical or undesirable), it fails utterly in sustaining a direct link between the user and the producer. Instead, it sets the user and producer at cross-purposes; the user wishes only to view the producer's content, and the producer needs the user to view the advertising.

What does this have to do with mass-market busking? Advertising currently fills the role that mass-market busking was designed for, and is often seen as the only viable tool for the job. Anywhere you rely on advertising to support a service, mass-market busking can do the same job without damaging the integrity of the service.

Why a Fixed Price Is Bad For Everyone

Buskware is emphatically not shareware. Shareware comes very close to it, but still insists on holding a legal stick (theoretically) over the users' heads, and on setting a fixed price based on a guess at what people will be willing to pay. Crippleware is just commercial software with a free demo and really has nothing to do with either shareware or buskware.

The effect that fixing a price has is to exclude those unwilling or unable to pay as much as the required price (in this case, whether they pirate the software or just go without makes no difference to the producer; either way, he doesn't get paid), and to limit the payments of those who would be willing to pay more. Either way, the end result is less income. Additionally, some people end up breaking the law, others end up deprived of the benefit from the software, and if there isn't enough income, all the users will be deprived of future versions of the software.

The Free Software Island

Free Software is a nice idea, once you get past all the silliness about it being a moral imperative. Everyone wants better software, and we programmers want a look at the code. However, following the practices of Free Software puts software production out on an island, isolated from the rest of the economy. Software is produced for the producers, and the users have nothing to contribute and no control (unless they are also software producers). Any consideration of the end users is an act of pure charity.

Where do the doctors, machinists, construction workers, farmers, factory workers, and all the other people who don't produce software, fit in? They have no influence in the Free Software world, despite the facts that they want software produced for their needs, and that they provide goods and services that the software people need and want. What a step backwards in economics!

Of course, you could still hire programmers if their work is worth enough to you to pay for it your self. This is probably how most computer programs in daily use are produced, and nothing is likely to change that in the near future. Custom development, whether closed or open source, will always be important, and buskware will have no effect on it one way or the other.

In Closing...

I would like to emphasize that selling software on the honour system is not optional. You can't prevent unauthorized copying. Right now, it is inefficient and many still have inhibitions against it, but these inhibitions fade as people see the endless variety of software that they can't afford, but they can copy with minimal effort and no real probability of being caught. Go have a look at Napster if you won't take my word for it; as was inevitable, internet systems have developed which wave copyrighted materials before the people who want them, and it only takes a moment to grab them. They will get better and more efficient as time goes by, and make it easier, safer, and more tempting to make unauthorized copies. The only question is, will you pretend that people can't get away with it, or face reality?

If you are a commercial software producer, you can go around restricting supply, suing people, and generally making "pirates" feel justified, as if they're fighting some evil tyrant, or you can drastically cut your overhead, deliver better products for less cost, and still get paid while generating good karma. The former will only work for a little while longer, while those who follow the latter course will be following a business model that will survive any possible change to intellectual property law.

This essay is buskware

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Mass Market Busking - The Inevitable Economics of Software | 35 comments (30 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Nothing new... ? (none / 0) (#5)
by Stargazer on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 10:19:49 PM EST

I really fail to see the difference between this and what Richard M. Stallman and the Free Software Foundation has been doing for years, and the free software community in general for a while.

The Free Software Foundation will gladly accept donations for their software. If you attached a request with your money, I have a hunch that they'd at least consider it. If that's not good enough, RMS would be glad to create the feature you want for a fee.

Likewise with various GNU/Linux distributions. Some people have a serious appreciation for the efforts of the distributors, and buy boxed copies. Others, whom either share less concern or less money, obtain it through less expensive means -- CheapBytes, the Internet, a friend, and so on.

The only real difference is that this mandates a direct relationship between money offered and influence bought. (This is the only reason why donations are so flexible -- it makes it easier to prioritize donors, as it lessens the odds that two people will donate the same amount.) I don't think most producers are willing to guarantee such a relationship. For instance, this essay itself is buskware. If I pay you $1,000,000 for it, and ask you to change it to say that buskware is a horrible idea that will never work, will you do it? Somehow, I doubt it. I believe that this is why buskware hasn't caught on already -- promising to do a favor before you know what it is has never been a good idea.

I'd also like to comment, as was done in this story's last incarnation, that the slam on free software is unnecessary and unsupported. Why do you even mention it?

-- Stargazer



No new practices, just an explanation of why you s (none / 0) (#7)
by TheDullBlade on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 10:53:01 PM EST

<i>this mandates a direct relationship between money offered and influence bought</i>

<p>There is nothing that says you have to listen to counterproductive suggestions. The primary effect of the money is not supposed to be just on the recipient, but on the industry. Paying says "this is the kind of thing people will pay for". That is why it's so important to insist that recipients keep public records of how much they've received.

<p><i>If I pay you $1,000,000 for it, and ask you to change it to say that buskware is a horrible idea that will never work, will you do it? Somehow, I doubt it. </i>

<p>Is this a joke? To get a million dollars, I'd write an essay on why I am an unfit human being who should be drowned in caterpillars. However, paying me the million dollars for this essay, buskware style, would tell me (and others) to write more like it, and your money would speak a lot louder than your comment.

<p>Being a buskware producer doesn't mean being for hire and obeying people who have paid you in the past, it means pursuing future donations. For that purpose, listening to the comments of people who pay you is likely to be profitable, as they are likely to share the interests of people who might pay you in the future.

<p>However, feel free to make an experiment. I might surprise you.

<p><i>the slam on free software is unnecessary and unsupported. Why do you even mention it?</i>

<p>Obviously, I disagree. I don't know how I can be clearer, except to mention that I (IMHO, obviously) meant free software where the users aren't donating money to the producers (after all, buskware is just free software written in the hopes of getting a donation). I don't think it's really a slam either, just pointing out that it's not the cure-all that some people think it is, and that there's room for something better (unless you're talking about the "moral imperative" bit, which I really think is just insane; look at my past posts to see an explanation of this).

<p>I think buskware is the completion of free software to make it "ready for prime time" so it can finally completely replace proprietary software. I was trying to illustrate the importance of that last step.
Visit Boswa Bits, now with 99% less evil!
[ Parent ]
No new practices, just an explanation of why you s (none / 0) (#9)
by TheDullBlade on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 10:54:15 PM EST

(whoops, posted as plain text) this mandates a direct relationship between money offered and influence bought

There is nothing that says you have to listen to counterproductive suggestions. The primary effect of the money is not supposed to be just on the recipient, but on the industry. Paying says "this is the kind of thing people will pay for". That is why it's so important to insist that recipients keep public records of how much they've received.

If I pay you $1,000,000 for it, and ask you to change it to say that buskware is a horrible idea that will never work, will you do it? Somehow, I doubt it.

Is this a joke? To get a million dollars, I'd write an essay on why I am an unfit human being who should be drowned in caterpillars. However, paying me the million dollars for this essay, buskware style, would tell me (and others) to write more like it, and your money would speak a lot louder than your comment.

Being a buskware producer doesn't mean being for hire and obeying people who have paid you in the past, it means pursuing future donations. For that purpose, listening to the comments of people who pay you is likely to be profitable, as they are likely to share the interests of people who might pay you in the future.

However, feel free to make an experiment. I might surprise you.

the slam on free software is unnecessary and unsupported. Why do you even mention it?

Obviously, I disagree. I don't know how I can be clearer, except to mention that I (IMHO, obviously) meant free software where the users aren't donating money to the producers (after all, buskware is just free software written in the hopes of getting a donation). I don't think it's really a slam either, just pointing out that it's not the cure-all that some people think it is, and that there's room for something better (unless you're talking about the "moral imperative" bit, which I really think is just insane; look at my past posts to see an explanation of this).

I think buskware is the completion of free software to make it "ready for prime time" so it can finally completely replace proprietary software. I was trying to illustrate the importance of that last step.
Visit Boswa Bits, now with 99% less evil!
[ Parent ]

Re: Now where's the motivation? (none / 0) (#10)
by Stargazer on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 11:18:52 PM EST

My question now becomes this: if I lose the guarantee that my suggestions will be considered with my money, do I not also lose some incentive to donate?
Granted, the example I gave earlier was patently overblown in both directions. However, there are several other scenarios in which the author does not want to consider what I believe to be a perfectly reasonable suggestion. For instance, I may send a contribution to the creator of qmail, and ask that he allow people to distribute modified versions, which he clearly does not want to do. Unless I do research beforehand into the author's motivations, there's no real reason to suspect that my suggestion is out of line; however, it will not be honored. Even subtler or quirkier issues could come up which create a similar scenario. I may still donate if I like the program just as it is, sure, but at this point, it seems that I lack motivation to donate in the hopes of getting desired improvements in, since there's no guarantee that they will be recognized and worked upon.

I'm especially curious, however, in what you did not say. How accurate am I in my comparison to the current practices of the FSF with buskware?

(unless you're talking about the "moral imperative" bit, which I really think is just insane; look at my past posts to see an explanation of this)

That's exactly what I was talking about. (The rest of it hardly qualifies as a slam.) Holding that opinion is fine, but it is grossly out of place in this essay. That said, I can not find the posts you mention, possibly due to the recent attacks on kuro5hin's server; could you point me to some specifically?

-- Stargazer



[ Parent ]

The real motivation is not a one-shot deal. (none / 0) (#13)
by TheDullBlade on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:00:55 AM EST

The motivation to donate is that once people see that you're handing out money, they'll start competing for it. It's like pushing down a point on a rubber sheet to make all the little balls sitting on the sheet roll towards it. You create a profitable area and people willl work in that area. With millions of balls and billions of fingers, it's much more efficient to just push on the sheet than try to keep track of all the balls and fingers you're interested in.

Sending a suggestion with money is like saying "I like what you've done, and if you did this, I'd like that, too." You aren't supposed to give all you might ever want to in one shot. There's an implication that if they follow the suggestion, you'll be more likely to send more money (failing that, someone else will probably like it enough to send money).

The important thing about suggestions is not that you obey every person who gives you money, but that you ignore the freeloaders to use your product without paying. If you're spending your effort to please the users in general, not just the donors, why should anyone be a donor?

To follow the ball and sheet analogy, there's no use putting in the effort of pushing on the sheet if the balls don't roll specifically toward the indentations.

Holding that opinion is fine, but it is grossly out of place in this essay. That said, I can not find the posts you mention, possibly due to the recent attacks on kuro5hin's server; could you point me to some specifically?

Ah, it was just a offhand remark, the kind I throw in to give my writing some flavour and the sense that there's a human being with other opinions outside the present topic on the other end of the wire. When I wrote this, I was mostly thinking about talking to the commercial software crowd, and so my gut feeling was that it would play well. It was as if to say, "ignore that one bit, they've got some good ideas." After all, many a person who writes software for a living ignores every idea from Stallman because he put a very vague and somewhat contradictory concept of "freedom" before all practical concerns like making useful software and putting food on the table (how is it freedom to be forced to distribute your source code?).

Here's the post I was talking about. I just can't see universal access to source code as a fundamental human right, to be placed above material profit (and material profit isn't always a second car in the garage, sometimes it's food for your children or medical care for your parents).
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[ Parent ]

Re: The real motivation is not a one-shot deal. (none / 0) (#20)
by marks on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 01:45:37 AM EST

The important thing about suggestions is not that you obey every person who gives you money, but that you ignore the freeloaders to use your product without paying. If you're spending your effort to please the users in general, not just the donors, why should anyone be a donor?

That's exactly what Microsoft says it's doing; 'Our new Windows is so much better because we listen to our customers'. We all know that's not true. It is so very wrong to let your design decisions depend on money.

Ignoring a freeloader with a great idea is NOT a good idea.

Your buskware is just as much about greed as the 'traditional' model for software sale, and is not good for creativity and innovation. There have been numerous examples of commerce stopping or slowing down true innovation (think gasoline-powered cars).

[ Parent ]
Of course it's based on greed. (none / 0) (#21)
by TheDullBlade on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:12:51 AM EST

Fundamental principle of buskware #1, as in "looking out for...".

It's all about the Benjamins. Capitalism is just greed as general economic policy, and it makes men rich, while everything else makes them poor. See 20th century history for examples, in that blighted time before every major government recognized capitalism as the best means of production.

Greed has been bad at times because there were ways to get money without benefiting the customer, usually by deception or by monopoly (as Larry Wall might say, "false greed", because you PO your customers and eventually ruin yourself).

Monopoly doesn't work when you have no way to coerce money from the customer. If they don't want to pay, they don't have to, whether they need your product or not. Deception is almost always a very temporary thing: you discover a bag of chips was just fluffed up with air when you open it, for example. When people don't have to pay up front, deception doesn't work either.

In buskware, a user-donor who is properly following his own best interest will encourage nothing but development for his benefit from the producers.

"Ignoring a freeloader with a great idea is NOT a good idea. "

True, to a point. Some really good ideas would even be worth paying for. But if it's a such a great idea, let him tell it to a donor, who could pass it on. If there it is a good idea for the freeloaders, but not for the donors, then there's no reason to develop it.

Generally speaking though, it should be healthy for your bank account to show a certain contempt for the freeloaders. Remember, too, that you need to eat and pay your internet bill if you're going to keep producing good things for mankind, no matter how noble and selfless you feel.
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[ Parent ]
Re: Of course it's based on greed. (none / 0) (#24)
by marks on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:44:20 AM EST

I'm not saying that capitalism is wrong. It's actually quite good in its essence. A couple of years ago, I was completely sure that the way the market works must be the right way, for exactly the same reasons you mentioned. But the same thing can be said about communism, which is quite good as well (in its essence). The problem with both systems (in fact with any system) is abuse. A system can only work if people want it to work. The thing that broke the communism was the greed of the ones that were in control; they enriched themselves while letting the rest of the population starve. The thing that will break capitalism is the greed of certain companies. The main advantage of free software (at least at the moment) is that most people involved WANT it to work.

..let him tell it to a donor
Telling someone what is best for that person is usually not appreciated. Besides, this way the donor gets the credit for his good idea, while it's really the freeloader's idea.

And money isn't everything. It's better to die of starvation believing what you think is right, than to give up your ideas for money to buy food (I realise that this is a very easy thing for me to say, behind my laptop in a room that has enough food in it to feed an African family for weeks).

[ Parent ]
MS isn't a good example (none / 0) (#35)
by ketan on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 06:30:00 PM EST

That's exactly what Microsoft says it's doing; 'Our new Windows is so much better because we listen to our customers'. We all know that's not true. It is so very wrong to let your design decisions depend on money.

Is it? Microsoft isn't nearly so flexible as the author implies one could be with explicit buskware (which is really not a name that sounds very good). Microsoft also operates on a scale that is exceptional. They don't care about your $30 donation, but a smaller developer would. Plus Microsoft makes many of its decisions for reasons that aren't tied directly to the profit on that particular piece of software, but rather as part of its over-arching money-making strategy. On the other hand, had Justin Frankel tried something like this with Winamp a few years ago, it might have actually been worthwhile.

On a somewhat related note, it might be a good idea for a buskware author to accept conditional donations, i.e., "I'll give you $X if you integrate an email client, but $Y if you don't just out of appreciation," where (X > Y). Thus you don't lose money if the author decides your donation is insufficient or your idea is poor. It should also be easy for users to band together to effect change. One user might not be willing to pay $500 for a feature, but 1000 users might be willing to pay $1 each.

Ignoring a freeloader with a great idea is NOT a good idea.

Indeed. Even if the freeloader doesn't pay you to implement his/her good idea, it might make enough people send you "appreciation donations" to be worthwhile. If it increases the worth your product has to your users or attracts new users, it's probably a good thing.

Your buskware is just as much about greed as the 'traditional' model for software sale, and is not good for creativity and innovation. There have been numerous examples of commerce stopping or slowing down true innovation (think gasoline-powered cars).

I'm assuming you mean that Detroit and the oil companies have been sitting on more efficient mechanisms than gasoline combustion. However, if there was the perception in those board rooms that people would pay $X billion for them to manufacture fuel cell/electric/solar/hamster-powered automobiles, things might be different. Might be, of course, as that's a very complex industry. I'm not sure the author intended for buskware to apply to everything. If he did, I think he's wrong, but that's something else. It's about being more explicit and fine-grained about the connection between action and incentive/reward. That, in my opinion, would result in greater efficiency because it's a more effective communication.

[ Parent ]

Selling software (2.00 / 2) (#6)
by PresJPolk on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 10:52:47 PM EST

I would like to emphasize that selling software on the honour system is not optional. You can't prevent unauthorized copying.

Wouldn't Microsoft disagree? And Adobe? Autodesk?

While consumers may have little risk in using software without a license, corporations have much risk, since when they actually make copies and distribute, they set themselves up for large lawsuits. THAT is the market where the big money is.

Consumers can't afford the ridiculous prices of various packages these days, so they use them without paying. Corporations can afford them, so they pay to avoid legal problems.

The system of closed proprietary software does work for the producers. And, as long as there are enough customers willing to use closed software, or unable to get by without particular packages, closed proprietary software will continue to exist.

Though, when the Gimp gets the features needed for use in publishing (like Pantone color), look out...



Hell, big corporations don't even need buskware. (none / 0) (#11)
by TheDullBlade on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 11:22:10 PM EST

They can get by with cooperative open-source efforts. They have the money to hire someone to make the changes they want, and only need one moderately clueful person to point out the people who could be hired for it. With the software engineering advantages of open-source code, it should be cheaper for large companies to make the changes themselves than buy a copy of proprietary software for all of their employees.

IMHO, things are already working out fine for the giant corporations.

It's us little people who need ways to pool our money. There are other ways to do it, but I think that buskware will work out best because it doesn't need any coordination between all the millions of people.

(Why not let the corporations bear the cost? Because then only the corporations' interests will be represented in the products.)
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[ Parent ]
Exactly.. things are working well for the corporat (none / 0) (#12)
by PresJPolk on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 11:49:33 PM EST

Things aren't going to change from the way they are now, until corporations stop funding the existing scheme.

Regardless of how many w4r3z d00ds there are out there, the Fortune 500, plus the big OEMs like Dell, will keep Microsoft and the rest of the proprietary gang going strong, regardless of how much "buskware" is around.

The existing scheme is working well (for some people), so any particular change is NOT inevitable.



[ Parent ]
That wasn't my point. (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by TheDullBlade on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:20:40 AM EST

My point was that the big corporations were moving away from proprietary vendors without buskware, not that they were perfectly happy with the proprietary solutions.

It's inevitable not only because people can pirate software, but between large users doing open-source work themselves and small users using buskware with component sharing, proprietary software won't be able to compete on quality.

Wherever the threat of piracy doesn't apply, the advantages of component sharing make direct competition from the users possible, and there's no way to beat <i>that</i> kind of competition.

You do, however, make a good point that large companies can't avoid copyright. I'll be thinking about that...
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[ Parent ]
Why You Are Wrong... (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:30:47 AM EST

LOL. Aight here goes here's why your wrong. ASPs and Webpads.

Currently the largest consumers of software are businesses and home users (who primarily use the computer to browse the web, send out email and type documents).

Let's start with businesses and ASPs. Currently billions of dollars has been invested to research and build up an infrastructure to serve the Application Service Provider business model. The ASP will be a win-win situation for everybody involved.
    Small Businesses will win because they don't have to spend lots of money on expensive software anymore and also they are now practically outsourcing most of their sys admin needs. Secondly they don't have to worry about software becoming obsolete because the website will be constantly updated.
    Sysadmins will win because they no longer have to deal with dozens of problems involving failed installs, corrupted configurations, disks stuck in drives and all other problems that stem from end users having data on their desktops. Upgrade hassles will become a thing of the past since they are all handled once on 1 machine or by the ASP.
    Vendors will win because it is the ultimate form of lock in. I doubt that once I start using MS Office.Net I will be able to export my .doc files to Star Office.Com with ease if at all. Also no more worries about pirates unless they plan to hack a machine and setup Office.Net servers or the like for free (or even better give away hacked Office.Net passwords, unlikely due to GUID tagging of registration info).
    ASPs will win because they have guaranteed ad revenues since every user will probably be glued to the site several hours a day.
Frankly, this model of software distribution is eagerly waiting in the wings for high bandwidth to reach critical mass so it can take off. I have friends that work at MSFT and I myself have worked for two software companies(large and medium sized) in the past year and can guarantee that almost every software vendor is moving to this model. So where does this leave your "Everyone most sell Buskware or perish" arguments?

Now on to the home user. Currently home user's buy PCs which most people admit is stupid. Why should anyone who merely wants to browse the web, view email and type a few documents need the same kind of machine I use to develop software, host websites and play digital media. The success of Netpliance and Oracle's NIC show that it is just a matter of time before most home users use a thin client to do do most of their computing while relying on a server for a majority of their stuff. Instead of reiterating the same points that I did for ASPs and businesses, I'll just say, "You know how that will end up". After all if the end user has nowhere to install the software they will either a) rent it or b) use some "free" site that gains their eyeballs for ad revenues.


Buskware, Shareware, Freeware, Free Software, whatever. The reality is that no matter what a bunch of college students and professors think, the software industry will try and make money. Nothing is funnier than watching the lengths Open Source software goes to make money while remaining Open Source and supposedly free. From deliberately writing unusable software (Sendmail) to overcharging for your product (VA Linux) or best of all giving it away for free then charging an arm and a leg for real support ( Interbase). Giving away software for free may work when you're a college professor living of grants (a la RMS) or a starving college student (like most of us) but makes little sense as a business plan. I'm yet to see anyone who's made their living consistently off of shareware or freeware, have you? And then how far does it scale?

All that will happen is what already happens, people will seemingly give stuff away when in reality they are not. I can download Oracle's 8i database, IBM's DB2, Microsoft's platform SDK, Borland's Interbase, Sun's Java and a whole lot of software for free. The primary reason is because it is more valuable for these companies to convert me as a developer than it is to lose me because I can't afford to buy a developer license. Off course once I try to write commercial code with any of this I get hammered but who cares most likely whoever I work for will have to deal with that while I just get to play with all this free software. I get to use Hotmail, Internet Explorer and dozens of functionality at Yahoo! for free or so it seems (after all ad dollars and IIS sales don't affect me). Think about it


The reason I voted down your article originally was because I couldn't believe that anybody would be so naive as to believe that the current distribution model for software will stay static. Also selling software on the honor system is simpling selling uncrippled shareware...
Duh, it's been done.

Why buskware is not shareware: (none / 0) (#16)
by TheDullBlade on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:52:33 AM EST

1) no fixed price
2) public disclosure of revenues

People are supposed to pay the shareware producer whatever he asks for partly in the hopes that this particular producer will make more good stuff, but mostly because it's the law.

People are supposed to pay for buskware so producers will compete for their donations, and they are free to pay whatever they want. You might be surprised at the living you could make off of dimes from a hundred million users.
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[ Parent ]
Re: Why buskware is not shareware: (none / 0) (#17)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 01:10:19 AM EST

I expected more of a debate out of you.

[ Parent ]
win-win? Excuse me while I ROTFLMAO (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by TheDullBlade on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 01:37:15 AM EST

Yes, that's it, the huge commercial software industry is going to survive intact because we're all going to start using dumb terminals. It was a truly brilliant innovation to drag up the old VT-100s from the basement and upgrade their graphics capability.

People are going to trust their vital, private information to be sent over the internet, to be hacked, and rely on distant servers, despite their twice-weekly DOSes. (and, of course, we all trust major software companies not to look at our data; they are the most ethical people on the planet, just ask any federal judge)

They certainly won't have huge security problems. After all, we're talking about companies like MS, the world's security experts.

I'm sure people will line up to buy a 3-function specialized "information appliance" instead of a general purpose computer for the same price. Definitely.

Of course everyone would just love to be locked in to a particular vendor, and rely on them utterly. Nobody values independence, or robust operations models.

Let's not forget the vast advantage of making it difficult for software developers to create and provide access to their customers. That always gives innovation a much-needed shot in the arm.

<seriously>

Proprietary thin clients and centralized computing have been the big software companies' wet dreams for years. It's not going to happen. Struggling for it is the sign of desperation. Sun tried it, now MS is similarly desperate (they'll fail the same way). For one thing, the open systems are always cheaper and more versatile, which is why PC beat out Mac and why Linux will beat out Windows.

A general purpose computer isn't significantly more expensive than a specialized computer. It may look that way, for one reason or another, but by the time the specialized computers hit the market, the general purpose ones have caught up in price/performance.

Funny thing about a general-purpose computer: when you configure it to boot into a certain program or application suite, it becomes a specialized computer, with all of the simplicity of maintenance and use that that implies.

</seriously>

You're right. Just look at how free software has dwindled to almost nothing over these past few years, while commercial software continues to innovate and creates superior software in every case. There's certainly no competitive advantage to a system like buskware in which the producers are well funded yet free to massively collaborate on development in an open system. Ask any scientist, and he'll tell you that innovation comes from keeping things secret and hidden.

Indeed, if you look at the development of computers since their first days, you'll see that they've always gotten more and more closed away and inaccessable, with fewer and fewer people actually owning them, and with less and less freedom to use them. That traditional software companies are closing things up and trying to keep their software away from their customers is just naturally part of that trend, it has nothing to do with a last-ditch wild panic over the threats of free software and widespread piracy.
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[ Parent ]

Re: win-win? Excuse me while I ROTFLMAO (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:33:22 AM EST

Spoken like a hacker :-)


People are going to trust their vital, private information to be sent over the internet, to be hacked, and rely on distant servers, despite their twice-weekly DOSes. (and, of course, we all trust major software companies not to look at our data; they are the most ethical people on the planet, just ask any federal judge)

Considering the success of eCommerce, yeah it is very likely that people will trust data sent over a network simply because it is encrypted. And to counter your point, all companies will do is sell servers to people who want to host their own sites. Most companies that write the software won't host it, they are software houses not ISPs. All it will take is a TRUSTe or a Verisign seal and all the PHBs and home user's will be happy.

I'm sure people will line up to buy a 3-function specialized "information appliance" instead of a general purpose computer for the same price. Definitely.

Of course, that explains the success of the Oracle's NIC, Rioport's (formerly Diamond) Rio, and Netpliance

Of course everyone would just love to be locked in to a particular vendor, and rely on them utterly. Nobody values independence, or robust operations models.

That's why Linux has 95 per cent of the OS market and Redhat is being investigated by the DOJ.

Let's not forget the vast advantage of making it difficult for software developers to create and provide access to their customers. That always gives innovation a much-needed shot in the arm.

Really I wonder why Visual Basic is the most popular language used in industry? Could it be that Microsoft actually provides a lot of developer support on their platform. Can it be that the mantra of reusable components and cross language object reusability/inheritance(Microsoft.NET) is to be ignored for more *nix chest beating and reinvention of the wheel? So please explain to me how ASPs or proprietary software houses are keeping developers from their customers?

For one thing, the open systems are always cheaper and more versatile, which is why PC beat out Mac and why Linux will beat out Windows.

Yep and that's why AOL's closed IM and proprietary network has crumbled.

A general purpose computer isn't significantly more expensive than a specialized computer. It may look that way, for one reason or another, but by the time the specialized computers hit the market, the general purpose ones have caught up in price/performance.

Excuse me sir, but how come the same technological advances that lower the price of general purpose computers won't lower those of specialized computers. Ever heard of a Playstation or a Dreamcast? They are specialized computers that play games...how much do they cost relative to general purpose PCs that play games?

Funny thing about a general-purpose computer: when you configure it to boot into a certain program or application suite, it becomes a specialized computer, with all of the simplicity of maintenance and use that that implies. Just like the Oracle's NIC, tiVo and Netpliance's I-Opener. Guess what, they aren't buskware but instead are using the ASP model.

The rest of your post isn't serious so I won't respond seriously.

You're right. Just look at how free software has dwindled to almost nothing over these past few years, while commercial software continues to innovate and creates superior software in every case.

Yep I'm still waiting for the Open Source innovation that was not borrowed from commercial software. Remember UNIX was/is commercial software. Heck, I'm still waiting for Open Source software that can match commercial software (where's the OS killer browser, or DB, or component object model)?

There's certainly no competitive advantage to a system like buskware in which the producers are well funded yet free to massively collaborate on development in an open system.

Dude, c'mon you aren't serious about this uncrippled shareware thing are you?

Ask any scientist, and he'll tell you that innovation comes from keeping things secret and hidden.

You realize that MSDN has better and more documentation than the entire Linux Documentation Project can shake a stick at. For a platform to be open does not involve Open Sourcing it but instead that the protocols and APIs are documented. Who cares what the source looks like as long as I know how it works and it works consistently?

Indeed, if you look at the development of computers since their first days, you'll see that they've always gotten more and more closed away and inaccessable, with fewer and fewer people actually owning them, and with less and less freedom to use them. That traditional software companies are closing things up and trying to keep their software away from their customers is just naturally part of that trend, it has nothing to do with a last-ditch wild panic over the threats of free software and widespread piracy.

Hot grits, Natalie Portman naked and petrified, MEEPT!!!.

PS: I am not pro-Microsoft and in fact have regular debates with a friend who works there about their policies but naivette such as yours needs to be challenged.

[ Parent ]
LOL , linux 95% of the OS market.......... (1.00 / 2) (#25)
by Greg Gibas on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:46:48 AM EST

LOL I found that line humorous that Linux has 95% of the market!!!!

So that means MSFT is out of business, huh? The last monopoly trial was about MSFT having 95% of the OS market, and wow that mustv'e changed quickly!!! :-)

I bet 95% of the people who use comptuers (including the dumb AOL users) have never even heard of Linux, much less be using it.

Just about everything else in your post sounded reasonable except the Linux part..... it really brightened up my day to see someone so misinformed...

[ Parent ]

WAIT ONE MORE THING (1.00 / 2) (#26)
by Greg Gibas on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:49:08 AM EST

Another thing you said is Redhat is being investigated by the DOJ... LO freakin' L!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Its Microsoft thats being investigated not Red Hat!!!

Man, proof-read your posts before you make them cause that is the stupidest thing I have EVER heard come out of a computer savvy (or so I thought) person!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!

[ Parent ]

LOL , linux 95% of the OS market.......... (1.00 / 2) (#27)
by Greg Gibas on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:49:20 AM EST

LOL I found that line humorous that Linux has 95% of the market!!!!

So that means MSFT is out of business, huh? The last monopoly trial was about MSFT having 95% of the OS market, and wow that mustv'e changed quickly!!! :-)

I bet 95% of the people who use comptuers (including the dumb AOL users) have never even heard of Linux, much less be using it.

Just about everything else in your post sounded reasonable except the Linux part..... it really brightened up my day to see someone so misinformed...

[ Parent ]

ANOTHER THING, SORRIE (1.50 / 2) (#28)
by Greg Gibas on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:52:11 AM EST

WAIT, I think you must've been kidding about the 95% of the market and red hat investigation (not enought caffine in my body)

Sorry if that was a misunderstanding........

[ Parent ]

God, you are stupid (1.00 / 1) (#30)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:58:12 AM EST



[ Parent ]
No, he's in the wrong discussion. (2.00 / 1) (#31)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 03:02:13 AM EST

He's trying to illustrate why we need '-1' moderation.

[ Parent ]
We're apparently not going to get anywhere. (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by TheDullBlade on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:56:37 AM EST

You're saying "this new, hermetically sealed, hands-off, take it as you get it, commercial system where everyone has to pay for every use and companies hold your data hostage is going to take off"

I'm saying "this new, totally open, completely customizable, commercial system where people only have to pay what they want and you have total control over all your own data is going to take off"

Essentially, where we differ is that you're looking at the buying habits of the computer-illiterate who think Bill Gates is the world's best programmer, while I'm looking at the preferences of people who know that the monitor isn't the computer and curse Bill Gates at least thrice daily. You've the advantage of numbers, but my side is growing all the time.

The only thing we can establish for sure is that the price of a game console only looks cheaper because it's spread over the ridiculous gouging prices of the games. That and that the WWW was a free-software project. We'll have to wait and see about the rest.

It's all bootless speculation until we see what happens further down the road.

But, of course, I'm right and you're wrong. Nyah, nyah.
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[ Parent ]
Re: We're apparently not going to get anywhere. (none / 0) (#32)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 03:06:37 AM EST

Essentially, where we differ is that you're looking at the buying habits of the computer-illiterate who think Bill Gates is the world's best programmer, while I'm looking at the preferences of people who know that the monitor isn't the computer and curse Bill Gates at least thrice daily.

Dude, there will always be less computer savvy people people than hackers. If all you are proposing is some new revenue model to replace the GPL or shareware licensing then I guess we are coming at this from opposite ends.

I pity the fool who wants to make money of Free Software. I support Open Source and will contribute when I find a worthwhile project. This doesn't mean I'm foolish enough to believe I can force people to pay for software which they can get for free elsewhere (GNU/FSF).

[ Parent ]
Re: win-win? Excuse me while I ROTFLMAO (none / 0) (#23)
by Greg Gibas on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:41:15 AM EST

Sorry pal, Linux will never beat out Windows unless a miracle happens and it magically becomes as easy to use as Windows. Even though its so much more stable and "better", not one person in my schoool (except me) would have a clue to what Linux was, much less how to use it. If Linux does replace Windows it'll be in a couple of decades, if ever. I know everyone would also perfer looking at graphical porn on their comps rather than ASCII porno, and the Linux interfaces like KDE crash every 10 mins or behave strangley and are not as conveniant as Windows is, not to mention its not as fast. Point: Linux is not even close it invading the home user market, and will never ever "eliminate" Windows unless it has a really large Miracle. BTW, I know all the Linux "gurus" and computer "gurus" say it will, but ask the average person down to street or in a supermarket and they probably won't even know what Linux is. And those people that are the "average" computer users are the ones who decide what to put into their computers and they'd rather have an unstable but easy to use system over some nerdy 70's type system.

[ Parent ]
Honor system (none / 0) (#18)
by Potsy on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 01:20:57 AM EST

Here is an example of an company based entirely on the sale of full-featured, non-crippled, fixed-price shareware -- Panic Software.

It's not what you're talking about, since the price is fixed and the revenues are not disclosed, but it's still a step towards "busk"

Why it won't work (1.66 / 3) (#33)
by tadadaDA! on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 03:30:51 AM EST

You don't seem to realize the fundamental contradiction in your proposal:

I would like to emphasize that selling software on the honour system is not optional. You can't prevent unauthorized copying.

So selling software doesn't work, because you can't stop people from copying software? The honor system doesn't work here, even when backed up with threats of legal penalties.

But somehow you think that payment based on an honor system will be more successful?

Fundamental flaw (2.00 / 1) (#34)
by qts on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 04:47:19 PM EST

>>>
Computer data is eternal and practically costless to reproduce and distribute, so individual copies needn't be treated like physical objects which each have a cost to the producer.
>>>

Computer disk space costs money, bandwidth costs money. The people who operate these need to make a profit to stay in business. I'm on a POTS line and we don't have 'free' - or even fixed cost - internet access here in the UK. For example, it's vastly cheaper and safer for me to go to the local shop and buy Starlancer than stay online for a week or more to download all 1GB+ of it.

Mass Market Busking - The Inevitable Economics of Software | 35 comments (30 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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