Re: BUG: Unsettled Cycle Prining (was: Announcing E 0.8.4: The Mark S. Miller (markm@caplet.com)
Thu, 03 Jun 1999 02:27:32 -0700

>>>On Tue, 1 Jun 1999, Mark S. Miller wrote:
>>>> Ping, is your bug tracking system ready for prime time? Are you
>>>> allowed to open source it?

>>At 03:34 AM 6/1/99 , Ka-Ping Yee wrote:
>>>[-] Alas, no. It was developed entirely on company time.
>>>I'd have to ask permission, and very likely the answer would be no.

>At 03:41 AM 6/1/99 -0700, Mark S. Miller wrote:
>>Considering the likelihood that ILM will derive revenue from selling your
>>bug-tracking software, one might say...
>>
>> Bureaucratic Inertia:
>> The Real Menace
>>
>>Their likely decision is a pure destruction of value -- a decision with no
>>possible benefit to anyone. This is the story of most businesses, large and
>>small, all across America and probably the world. Coming soon to a theater
>>near you.

At 04:44 PM 6/1/99 , Dean Tribble wrote:
>This is one of the bugs that is essential to get out of the open source
>movement. It costs real money, and even more importantly, real attention,
>to open source something. The required money and attention will go down as
>there is more agreement on open source licenses and they are tested in
>court. Until then, however, the cost is real, and I think dismissing it
>reduces the respect that open source will get from business, does a
>disservice to the companies who have spent that effort and money, and
>blinds open source advocates to the barriers they need to help overcome to
>get more things open sourced.

[-] The legal step isn't the expensive step.

There's a distinction usually absent from discussions of open source, but which was crucial at EC, and again currently at Xanadu: The distinction between the legal step of declaring some set of intellectual property to be open source, and the step of making it publicly available in a non-embarrassing way, publicizing it, promoting it, and trying to catalyze a Bazaar process. This second step is certainly expensive in many ways, especially of attention, and for most programs it will never be worth these costs. EC never paid these costs for E. I'm paying these costs, but if I wasn't, EC still wouldn't be. Having gone through this with E, I'd like you to explain what hidden costs EC paid that I'm missing.

There are a large class of programs written within corporation where the corporation can clearly know (with high probability) that they will never try to sell the program, because it's outside their sense of their business. ILM and bug-tracking being a fine example. OTOH, the corporation *does* have an interest in having their programmers take extra pride in creating these programs. The attention-cost of choosing an open-source license, which is real, should be paid once for all programs in this class.

In most other fields (not all) of artistic endeavor for hire, it is standard practice for the artist to accumulate a portfolio of past work, to show to others. If you want to talk about tremendous hidden costs, consider the pain of careers of brilliant work, all of which were flushed down the toilet. None of which can even be shown to friends to say "look at this cool thing I did." To tally this as a cost to the business, how much of a salary difference would compensate for this difference in working conditions? Some employees would rate this higher, and some lower. Which kind of employee would you want?