Re: More math and open source

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From: Dave Winer (
Date: Tue Sep 19 2000 - 02:16:01 PDT

Jeff, I was right there with you until you gave open source projects a high
score for input from users.

If you make developer tools and geeky OSes, it's easy to be open to
suggestions from users, they are people just like you are. However if you
make software for less technical or non-technical people, it's much harder
work. On that scale I'd give Microsoft a 3, and open source a 0, because so
far no one has tackled a truly end user project yet. Don't tell me about
Eazel, let them earn their stripes before they become part of the folklore.

Also, as has been pointed out elsewhere, most open source projects if not
all are rehashes of things that have already been done. I wonder if you can
really blaze a new trail when a fork is always chasing you. At the first
sign of success someone else is going to want to grab the cursor. Where's
the reward for creative risk?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jeff Barr" <>
To: "'Mark Day'" <>; "'Jeff Bone'" <>; "'Dave
Winer'" <>
Cc: "'Kragen Sitaker'" <>; <>
Sent: Monday, September 18, 2000 11:25 PM
Subject: RE: More math and open source

> Looking through the pieces of this thread over the
> past couple of days, here's my quick observation.
> (even tying in the math concept).
> Imagine a 2-d plane, 10x10 units in size.
> * The first (x) axis is a measure of how much input that
> users have into the software development process.
> Input could be anything from suggestions to
> contributions of code.
> * The second (y) axis is a measure of how much visibility
> the user has into the development process. From
> seeing and knowing nothing (not even advance notice
> of releases) through access to compiled betas, up
> to and including source access.
> We can then "plot" various projects as points on this
> plane:
> * At the 0,0 point we have software developed in
> isolation, with no external input and no source
> availability.
> * at the 9,9 point we have the most open of all
> possible open source projects. I think that Linux
> is in this ballpark.
> * The line of the form (X=n) represents projects that
> increasing provide more in the way of source as y
> increases. At y=0 you get no source, at y=5 you
> might get source for significant non-core parts, and
> at y=9 you get the whole ball of wax. For example,
> I think that much of what Userland releases is
> at the y=5 point. There is a lot of source included,
> but there is a compiled and non-sourced kernel. I'm
> not making a judgement on this, its a great mid-point
> example. Microsoft Windows has y=0, and Linux has
> y=9.
> * The line of the form (Y=n) represents projects that
> increasingly allow the user to interact with and
> contribute to the development process. Commercial
> software has x values between, say 0 and 4. Open
> source ends up in the high end of the range, with
> variations based on how responsive the developers
> are to outside influences -- do they listen and
> respond to what the users request.
> Does this make any sense? If so, feel free to name
> this after me. If not, well I never said anything...
> Jeff;
> Jeff Barr - Home: 425-836-5624 Office: 425-936-3098
> 4610 191st Place NE. Redmond, WA
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Day []
> Sent: Monday, September 18, 2000 9:51 PM
> To: Jeff Bone; Dave Winer
> Cc: Kragen Sitaker;
> Subject: RE: More math and open source
> > I'm
> > just not sure losing sleep over what "open source" really means
> > is worthwhile.
> > Unless you happen to be RMS, maybe, but hopefully somebody is
> > paying for him to
> > see a really good therapist.
> I assumed he had enough money from the MacArthur to pay for a good
> himself, if needed. Although I suppose the rates can be pretty steep.
> --Mark

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