[unrev-II] Re: Species/Project Survival

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com)
Date: Wed May 10 2000 - 14:29:50 PDT

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    Lee Iverson wrote:
    > I feel I have to respond to this clearly and unambiguously, since it
    > was one of my comments in last weeks meeting which seems to have
    > thrown Eric into this blue funk.
    Actually, it wasn't you at all. I had a pretty severe headache yesterday
    (quite unusual for me). I wound up going home and taking a nap. When my
    energy is low, it gets hard. Right now, I'm straddling a fence, trying
    to put enough energy into this effort to make progress, and trying to
    get work done, as well. When energy is high, it all seems doable. But
    when its low, I feel like I'm not succeeding at either task.

    > ...I > felt that we wouldn't have any problem with SRI embarking on an
    > open-source strategy for the development of the OHS infrastructure as
    > long as there was an opportunity to build IP-oriented revenue streams
    > on top of it.
    Absolutely. That is a requirement for *any* business model that expects
    any degree of longevity. If Augment were being sold anywhere, it would
    be paying for its continued development and refinement. The fact that it
    wasn't, and that no other revenue streams were derived from it, accounts
    for the fact that the huge intellectual investment that went into it is
    now all but lost.

    We could get a government grant, but what do you do when that runs out?
    Open source allows everyone to make fixes and additions, and that's
    But for the revolution in collective thinking we need, it needs wide use
    and continued development.

    Personally, I would love to give it away. But I have a problem. My rent
    check is due every month. And if I don't deliver it, they are very
    unkind about cutting anyone any slack. Take away my worry about having a
    roof over my head and a lot of my insistence on a viable business model
    goes away. But what about other potential contributors?

    The bottom line is that there is a mismatch between the idealistic
    vision of open source and the real world reality of needing to eat. A
    good open source license provides a mechanism for resolving that
    dilemma, so its important to get it right.

    > It is my firm belief that some of these concerns are exactly relevant
    > to the discussion of the open standards part of the system design
    > herein. I reiterate my belief that the path to revolution exemplified
    > by the Internet and the Web involves:
    > 1) Simplicity
    > 2) Open Source
    > 3) Open Standards
    I believe you are absolutely correct in this assessment. I note, though,
    that your original statment of this concise truth was that the growth of
    the Web resulted from 1) Simplicity and 2) Open standards and 3) Free
    software. It is interesting, I think, that open source did not enter
    into the equation.

    As a result, it is not totally clear that open source is a necessary
    requirement for success. It may be that the world is changing, and that
    it is now a requirement. Or it may be that the ability to write
    proprietary implementations provides a profit incentive that attracts
    developers and investors. That, in turn, produces a variety of solutions
    and the marketing/PR efforts that educate consumers.

    So: Simplicity and Open Standards are definitely required. Then, either
    open source and/or a freely available version of the software would seem
    to be required. The best of both worlds, I think, is to find the right
    combination of open source and financial incentives (proprietary
    components) that allows for the most rapid evolution and at the same
    time the most rapid market expansion.

    I suspect that we are looking at two crossing trends. The saddle at
    which they intersect probably characterizes the optimal license.

    Remember four years of good friends, bad clothes, explosive chemistry

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