boomberg bloopers

David Johnson david at
Fri Feb 16 18:43:16 UTC 2001

On Friday 16 February 2001 02:20 am, Seth David Schoen wrote:

> If there were a big market for some kind of labor and a lot of people
> began to do that same labor as volunteers, or as a hobby, the people
> who did it for a living would see their livelihood threatened, even
> though the activities of the volunteers or hobbyists are totally
> legitimate.

Bullocks! If I donate my time to a soup kitchen I am not threatening the 
sandwich shop. And my letters to the editors do not threaten the daily 
> If you look at bottom lines instead of ethical or legal principles,
> _any_ competition -- especially competition from competitors who
> experience fewer costs -- is undesirable and harmful. 

Bullocks again! Competition is an aid to an industry. A monopolist, 
regardless of your moral position on the topic, is prone to poor quality and 
high prices, while even two competitors in an industry will at least "raise 
the bar". Given that the competition is voluntary, and not an artificial 
product of a court ruling, it can only be a benefit.

Of course, most, if not all, Open Source is "free beer" and not sold as a 
product (although the shrink wrap, service or support is). It is not in 
competition with closed source software anymore. That Open Source has become 
a significant enough factor to make Jim Allchin sweat is an indicator that 
least certain sectors of the closed source market are obsolete.

The profession of scribe used to be a lucrative trade. But the invention of 
the printing press vastly lowered the producing copies of books. The 
profession of scribe didn't go away, it just had to find new market niches. 
I'm sure the Jim Allchins of those times accused Gutenburg of Uneuropean 
activities. In the same way, digital meda and networks have vastly lowered 
the cost of producing copies of software. And the public is starting to find 
this out. It won't take the closed source industry out of business. But 
closed source will have to find new market niches besides the "one size fits 
all" niche they've been in.

David Johnson

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