Software communis vs. capitalism in comp.lang.scheme

Dan Connolly (
Sun, 28 Apr 96 14:21 EDT

------- Start of forwarded message -------
From: (Dale.Parson)
Subject: Re: "Why you should not use Tcl"
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss,comp.lang.tcl,comp.lang.scheme
Date: 26 Apr 1996 13:57:42 GMT
Organization: AT&T
Lines: 71
Message-ID: <4lqkom$>
References: <RMS.96Apr24125747@beehive>
Xref: gnu.misc.discuss:27937 comp.lang.tcl:47030 comp.lang.scheme:15742

In article <RMS.96Apr24125747@beehive>,
Richard M. Stallman (OR APPARENTLY Tom Lord) <> wrote:
>We've all seen exactly these kinds of wars carried out on a grand
>scale between factions of those who write *proprietary* software.
>We've all seen the terrible waste that happens when company A writes
>one program and then company B feels compelled to rewrite essentially
>the same program with the aim of putting A out of business and its
>programmers out on the street. Everybody loses in that kind of war.
>The people in company A lose when company B steals their livelihood.
>The people in company B lose because instead of building creatively on
>a foundation already laid, they only get to dig a new foundation along
>side the first. And the users suffer too -- they get to wait around
>in the rain for the completion of a usable building while A and B dig
>foundation after foundation arguing all the while about which is best.

Maybe company A has crappy software or crappy pricing.

The GNU folks have an interesting philosophy, although I will admit
that I had my taste of communal living--muddy roads, outhouses and
too many people in a house--in the early 70's. I would constructively
suggest that they read some of the research literature from genetic
algorithms / genetic programming, specifically the stuff that relates
to competitive coevolution, predator / prey coevolution and genetic
arms races, for both the negative AND positive contributions they make
to development. The thrust is that opponents are good for knocking stale,
sub-optimal solutions off of their local thrones. Maybe Hillis'
research on this stuff would be acceptable to GNU-dom.

I think J. Ousterhout has made an advance in bagging any element of
copy-leftness from Tcl, and that as much as anything helps account
for the popularity of the thing. There's no control strings attached.

>Think, if you will, of the proprietary world as one in which A and B
>are locked in a circular track, compelled to chase each other in an
>endless, monotonous race. After a while you might even have trouble
>telling who is chasing and who being chased -- all you see is A and B
>going round and round in one place, covering the same ground again and
>again. The ultimate goal of each is to catch and kill the other. I
>suppose the winner, if there could ever be one, would then have the
>"privilege" of jogging in his own private little circle from then
>on, going nowhere fast, for nobody.

Sounds like Bill Gates' version of nirvana. Unfortunately Microsoft
ain't going commie anytime soon, so unless you think that folks with
lots of spare time are gonna give him a run for his money, you'd
better hope that there are a lot more folks interested in making money
than the one that there's always bound to be.

>Everybody can win. A and B each get to express themselves with
>creativity and originality. As the game progresses up the spiral,
>everybody -- users and A and B alike -- are all taken to new heights
>and a better world.

This whole thing sounds like Trotsky apologizing for Lenin.

Dale Parson, Bell Labs,

| "These words are too solid, they don't move fast enough |
| to catch the blur in the brain that flies by, and is gone..." |
| Suzanne Vega |

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