Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...

Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...
From: Michael Gogins (
Date: Sun Nov 13 2005 - 15:31:28 EST

Your assertions of poor software quality in open source are demonstrably
false in at least several notable cases: Python, Apache, MySQL at least.

You are correct about geekiness. But then, geekiness is a virtue, like
literacy, of which it is a form. It consists of actually knowing how to use something,
and in this is rather like actually knowing how to write.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Wentk" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, November 13, 2005 12:21 PM
Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...

> At 16:29 13/11/2005, you wrote:
>>It's too simple to say that either open source is always better or
>>commercial is always better. I know (having used both) that Microsoft
>>Office is superior to OpenOffice. I know that Python, PHP, MySQL, and
>>Apache are excellent because I have used them (and I have also used the
>>Microsoft .NET platform and Internet Information Server). I suppose it is
>>true that Max/MSP is better than PD, though I've only used PD.
> Well, the problem with OpenSource is that most of it is by geeks, for
> geeks. Which is why it's fine for things like web servers and programming
> languages, but less appealing to people who think that compiling source
> code isn't necessarily a fun or productive way to spend an afternoon.
>>However if one's goal is simply to write software, open source is a better
>>way to go because one can leverage all other open source software without
>>cost. This is a positive feedback situation. I think in the long run open
>>source will displace much proprietary software, especially in research,
>>artistic, and nonprofit situations.
> No, it won't. Not ever. Because geeks don't think how other people think,
> and - worse - have no interest in how other people think. Geeks think
> using a command line is fun and 'powerful'. Everyone else thinks using a
> command line is ridiculous.
> The moral high ground claim of Open Source doesn't work because it's not a
> real alternative. Feature sets are poor, reliability is low, and ideas are
> hardly ever truly original or innovative. Most are either developments of
> existing ideas or knock-offs of mainstream products. I suspect this may
> not be a coincidence.
> Overall, the claims don't live up to the hype. There's a point at which
> 'Hey, we're not Microsoft, so that makes us cool, right?' stops being a
> viable excuse for producing sort-of-working crap.
>>If we as a society wish to reward innovators and foster innovation (the
>>stated legal justification for both patent and copyright law), then we
>>need to deal with a situation that has radically changed thanks to the
>>perfection of digital copies. We are not doing this, but we need to.
> Well, yes and no. I think perhaps it's the universities that are missing
> the point here.
> There's clearly a need for cheap student software. There's also a need to
> give student programmers experience designing products that will be used
> by real people. Is it too trite to suggest that those two problems could
> be solved by getting one group of students talking to the other group,
> with some academic management to keep projects on track?
> This could be a huge win for universities because they could develop
> licensable IP with a captive market funded by heavily discounted versions
> for students and full price versions for outsiders. Student scavenging
> would become less necessary than it is today, and student programmers
> would get some much needed experience of dealing with user feedback and
> design input, rather than designing in a vacuum as still seems to happen
> rather too often.
> This is only a minor twist on existing development models that are used in
> physics, chemistry and other kinds of engineering.
> Richard

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