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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Re: Rethinking Licensing

Well, Paul. Your kind words and gracious attitute have thawed out
my decision not to post further thoughts on this topic. I started to
respond privately, but some ideas came up in the process that it
seemed important to share. So....    (01)

Paul Fernhout wrote:    (02)

> > And there is a strong case that the world would have been better
> > off without the profit incentive. We might still be living without
> > plumbing, but at least we wouldn't be chewing up the ecosystem
> > at such an alarming rate.
> We may not have plumbing much longer if the profit motive driving the
> creation of weapons of mass destruction continues...    (03)

And that's only one of the *many* ways in which we have the capacity
to do ourselves in. We might erase every tree on the planet, heat the
planet into a desert, pollute ourselves out of water or air, not to mention
the nanobots and self-replicating machines that Bill Joy warned us
about.    (04)

> > I would say that if we basically don't want software development,
> > because of its capacity for harm, then this is as good a way as any
> > to prevent. Make it impossible to make a living at it, and certainly
> > no "dominating force" will ever come into existence.
> I disagree. Your assumption here is code only gets developed as an
> investment for resale. Sorry. As I pointed out in a prior reply to John
> Maloney today, only about 15% of IT dollars are spent on shrinkwrapped
> software (using various figures). So, the other 85% would still be spent
> regardless.    (05)

Good point. However, I have wanted to make a living by putting my
ideas out into the world for some 30 years, now. Always, though,
I am consumed by the necessity of putting *others'* ideas into the
world, in order to feed my face. At last count, I have 3 books, 15
programs, several articles, and 10 different product ideas in various
stages of development. If I can just get one of them to start developing
an income stream, then another, then another -- eventually I may have
the freedom to devote to the projects I really consider important -- like
3 dimensional farming, community building, and social reorganization.    (06)

A software ecology makes it possible to publish things that get used
by others, and to use things others publish to build other things in a
way that costs me nothing except a piece of the pie when someone
buys things. It may turn out that nothing accrues. But that is no different
from where I sit today. On the other hand, today I need to create a
whole organization in order to profit from my ideas in way, shape, or
form. That means constructing a whole product, doing the testing, etc,
and charging an arm and a leg for it, because it takes a serious profit
to run the shop and repay the investors who made it happen.    (07)

In a software ecology, on the other hand, any given module is tested
over and over by everyone who uses it. When I link them together,
there is much less risk. If all of the bugs tend to be surface bugs, as
a result, then debugging is vastly simplified. So a large team isn't
needed. And if my stuff can be found by searching, a lot of marketing
isn't needed, either. Result: I can make a small amount on each
transaction and still make out great. So software of that kind would
be vastly cheaper.    (08)

Then, too, for the 85% of the software you mention, there would be
no transaction! Therefore, there would be no royalites to share. In
such cases, the module I create would derive no revenue. At least
not today. But one day, maybe it would.    (09)

Since all those modules would be out there, hoping to make money
one day, those 85% of the projects would have a whole lot of good
stuff to choose from, all for free! That would promote lots of
component reuse, and be a much better situation than today.    (010)

True, Big Green might make a library with all kinds of great stuff that
people buy. But my little module would still be out there, and people
could use it for free. Then, if they make a bigger widget or a product
and whatever -- and if they sell it -- then I get my dollar. (Note that
I am assuming some sort a fail-safe system tracking and remuneration
system here -- not that I see any practical implementation of same on
the horizon. This is just blue-sky thinking.)    (011)

To continue in the assumption business, I'm assuming that all this
revenue sharing and whatnot is totally automated. There's no
bookkeeping for me to take care of -- just a monthly report that
shows me what came in, who got what out of it, and how much
went into my bank account after all was said and done.    (012)

Hey, I got $32 from Amazon last month from people who bought books
featured on my web site. That's pretty cool. If I *was* living on
mortgage-free land with a 3-dimension forest farm on it that took care
of my basic needs, that $32 would go a long way!!  :_)    (013)

The basic trap here is that we indenture ourselves at birth, because we
have no knowledge of how to survive outside of a work-a-day life.
(It's kind of scary, too, after a failed startup and bankruptcy, knowing
that the moment you get incapacitated and stop producing, for whatever
reason, you'll be homeless and on the street in a finite number of months.)    (014)

The way out of that trap starts with 3-dimensional farming, I believe.
And it continues by willing our land to others with similar beliefs, or
selling it for a dollar. A little over an acre can support 10 people, plus
assorted wildlife. It can put oxygen back in the air, reduce water
consumption (in comparison with hot-sun farming, which needs so
*much*, and help counter-act the greenhouse effect.    (015)

That's 10 people who could be starting little cottage industries and living
well on $100 or $200 a month. Wouldn't that be cool?!    (016)

Software development and information-work are cottage industries that
can actually work in such settings. But the income you'd need to generate
would be very, very small. And if you didn't work at all, it's not like you
wouldn't eat, or have no place to sleep. You'd just have to skip the
restaurants and movies, or not get that 10,000th book that just *has*
to be added to the library.    (017)

Now that would be cool. But my most recent counter-culture brainstorm
was that if we essentially give away "our" land when we die -- to the
right people, with the proviso that they won't go selling it to someone
else for a huge bundle of bucks -- then we start to make corporations
more and more irrelevant.    (018)

In effect, we can dry up their power base by taking away the oil that
drives them. If you don't need thousands of dollars every year just to
make the mortage or rent payments, then you don't need to work for
those large companies. And if you don't need to be super productive
to compete, in order to keep your job and get ahead, then you don't
need to buy the stuff they produce, and you don't need to work at a
job you hate -- at least not for than the few hours it takes to be able to
got to a movie once in a while.    (019)

If one person gives away land to make a dozen people free, it's a
start. But if the idea spreads and more people start doing it, it's
a movement. And if the idea really becomes popular, then your
grandkids can be *free*.    (020)

Even Mr. Forbes, bless his huge heart and great intelligence, realizes
that giving his millions to his kids would only create a lazy, monied
aristocracy. So he vows that in his will, he arranges things so his kids
will have to make their own way. That is just awesome, in my book.    (021)

Of course they will have the advantages of the best schools and great
contacts, and I think that's great, too. They'll even have a head start,
and that's a good thing. But fundamentally, what we're talking about
here is a level playing field where everyone has an equal opportunity,
and THAT is what it's all about.    (022)

In America, no one hates the rich because we all know (rightly or
wrongly) that we could be there, too, one day. In Europe, there has
been in the past, at least, a long tradition of hating the rich, dating
back to the landed aristocracy that was born with wealth and did
nothing whatever to earn it.    (023)

The difference is in the equality of opportunity. Forbes is wise
enough and decent enough to see it, but even giving his millions
away will do little to change the system. A few kids will have
some number of thousands to start life with, instead of millions.    (024)

But it we start giving away land, and seeing how to make it produce
in ways that are in harmony with nature -- ways that take 4 hours
a week for 16,000 sq. ft., with no plowing, fertilizing, weeding,
pesticides, or herbicides -- ways that produce up to 15 tons per
acre, and completely the supply the produce needs of the people
who live on it -- then we can completely reengineer society and
make companies the servants of people, instead of their masters.    (025)

That's the kind of thing I'd like to be spending more of my time on.
But I spend much of my time figuring out how to make a living,
instead. A software ecology could play an important role in that
picture, both for me personally, and for society as a whole.    (026)

thanks again
:_)    (027)