TBH, a bit disappointed that there was no actual discussion of FOSS pitfalls. A few people faved/boosted it but no replies. :shrug:
@pointlessone Thanks for linking to it again, interesting thoughts that I missed because I stepped away from the fire hose!
I think there is an ethical argument to be made for not restricting use as a matter of principle (not just an emotional appeal), but I'd need to give it though before attempting to articulate.
It's very interesting that the FSF has actually failed to do so.
@HerraBRE OSI has failed to make an ethical argument as well. If anything, even more so taking into account permissiveness of most of their licenses.
While FSF has firm political stance, the most popular OSI licenses are "meh, whatever, just don't blame me".
@pointlessone The OSI and the "Open Source" concept were explicitly created with the aim of divorcing Free Software from any ethics or politics to make it more "business friendly" - so that's no surprise. That was the whole point!
But if the FSF has failed to clearly explain their ethical foundations, then that's worth exploring further IMO.
@HerraBRE Both FSF and OSI have been relatively successful in achieving their goals.
They both were a reaction to an existing problem at the time of their corresponding foundation.
What I'm trying to point out is that maybe it's time to address new issues. And that we probably need something new since neither FSF, not OSI were able to do that so far.
One shouldn't consider software in isolation, the hardware should also be included. And neither of those types of technology is special. Generally, it has to deal with scientific research and education. Even more generally, with public services, externalities, macro-economics, ecology, and so on and so forth.
#Market mechanism is simple and elegant, but has very limited applicability in practice, despite a popular belief that everything can be built around it.
@pointlessone P.S. WRT the software licenses: just use a strong copyleft (because copyright is inherently flawed) and accept donations, direct or indirect — there seems to be no better way to fund the development. The projects are competing for the donations then, and of course the more generous donors have more control over the team, but it seems acceptable.
@amiloradovsky Copyleft is a Copyright hack. It’s based on the same legal basis. One of the main Copyright’s intents is distribution control. Copyleft just says “here’s how I want to distribute my creation: I will let everyone use it as long as they do the same with derivatives”.
So being a special case of copyright it must have all the same flaws.
@amiloradovsky However in the earlier thread I point out the flaw with this Copyleft-specific approach to distribution. The “everyone” part. Giving up distribution control author essentially forfeits a massive portion of business possibilities which, in turn, becomes a massive hit to creations sustainable development.
@amiloradovsky Because unlike art (where Copyright traditionally was applied) software is never done. It has to adapt to those externalities you’ve mentioned in another toot: new hardware, other software, cultural changes, etc.
I meant externalities in the strict sense, defined in economics: stuff like environment pollution, on the one end, and public parks, on the other.
@amiloradovsky I admit I’m not quite fluent in economics.
But even so it seems Copyleft licenses values public perks more than project sustainability.
They value the sustainability of public parks more than the sustainability of gas stations, I'd say…
Yes, copyleft is a legal hack. And, no, it doesn't have all the same flaws. — It's only purpose is to counter-act copyright; not augment it, but subvert.
@amiloradovsky For what purpose though? Does it help sw project sustainability in any way?
It makes the life for the competitors, selling unethical (tech.) services, more difficult. Since they are forced to recreate the components for their proprietary products, and can't legally base them on the available FLOSS.
Making your project & community stronger, and the competitors weaker, even if slightly, should help making it's perspectives brighter.
@amiloradovsky This is a nice conceptual picture but it doesn’t account for a little detail: community hardly ever maintain any given project. As with anything Pereto Principle is applicable: the vast amount of contribution/maintenance/development is done by very few developers. Collective gain, though, distributed mostly evenly.
Yes, the public tends to not appreciate the public services very highly. And those involved in their provision have the choice to either become apathetic, distant themselves, or indulge in corruption.
Yes, it is pretty desperate fight, but the greatest minds of the humanity, collectively, couldn't think up anything better. So I likely won't either…
Market, as a form of self-optimization, is effective sometimes, but only under the control of the state(s).
@amiloradovsky I highly doubt that greatest minds have given a though to this particular problem.
I’d don’t expect you personally (or anyone really) to solve this right now and here.
My intent is to bring this issue to the forefront and give it some spotlight so more people could be exposed to it and maybe give it a though.
They all pondered the more general problems, of which this would be a particular case.
Basically the choice usually boils down to either take the huge risk, likely sacrifice your own life for the good of others, or become yet another managed unit of workforce.
It's nothing wrong with raising this topic again, but it's so old and complicated that I'd only expect any meaningful insight from a devoted political scientist or something, not a casual computer person…
@amiloradovsky I strongly disagree non RMS, nor Perens and Raymond were “devoted political scientists”. They all were programmers first of all.
Moreover, the issues in the original thread come from political basis of both FSF and OSI. Politics over practicality or ethics.
Yes, and they have chosen to sacrifice their lives, like everyone else. Nothing new.
Politics is very practical, if it finds it's way into the wild…
@amiloradovsky Does it have to be this way though? Do we need to sacrifice lives for software?
I don't know, I wish there were better ways. But I can't think of anything better than utilizing the usual grants and donations mechanisms, used by science and non-profits. Any commerce will just destroy it all, it seems — so far it did.
@amiloradovsky I wouldn’t dismiss commerce so eagerly. Seems a bit shortsighted. After all we live in a capitalist society and it’s not 100% all bad.
There are a few projects out there that use commerce to sponsor FOSS. They’re more an exception though. And they adopted the model more out of necessity than as a natural continuation of their projects.
@amiloradovsky FOSS is not an ideal solution given current reality.
FSF was a reaction to a specific historic circumstances. It did its job well enough. Circumstances changed and OSI came about. Maybe it’s time to come up with something that addresses new problems?
Copyleft is still actual, as copyright is still a thing.
The permissive licenses damage that effort, and one should not contribute to those projects, unless paid as much as for the work imposing all sorts of NDAs. Best of all, not at all — it will drive the prices up and make creation of proprietary software even more expensive, thus less attractive.
@amiloradovsky This is a political stance. It might be a worthwhile cause but again, as mentioned in the original thread, doesn’t take into account practicality or ethics, and maybe a few other things.
It depends on what is considered practical and/or ethical. These are very subjective matters in general.
@amiloradovsky So is politics. That’s hardly a basis to dismiss ethics or strip people of livelihood in the name of a political cause. Is it?
Sure, political views are also subjective. Although some argue there may be distinguished two "pure" mindsets, existing in a "superposition". I mean the conservative and progressive. But it's way broader subject than software development.
@amiloradovsky Its just one spectrum. FOSS is on the political spectrum but it seems intentionally avoiding other spectrums or argues that there are no alternatives. Which might be true on the political spectrum but definitely not the case in the multidimensional space of all the spectrums.
What are the other dimensions?
@amiloradovsky From the original thread:
Sustainability: How do we compensate contribution? How do we ensure steady, regular work on the project?
Ethics: Do we let use our software for nefarious causes? Do we invest in accessibility? Inclusiveness (inclusive language, i18n, etc.)?
These aren't an additional dimensions of the "political spectrum", IMO. Anyway:
- Pass a law, establish an agency, and evaluate grant applications to distribute the budget among the projects.
- First define what "nefarious" is, of course taking the public opinion into account, then describe it in a law and enforce it…
But this is not what you meant, right?
@amiloradovsky No, those are the spectrums other than political that FOSS currently doesn’t consider.
Do we need a law to make this work? Neither FSF, nor OSI needed any to achieve their goals. Hopefully none is needed to improve on those.
@amiloradovsky Direct donations is the best we can have now. In large because of strong Copyleft licenses. And we know that this approach is extremely unsustainable.
Prime example OpenSSL. It’s one of the most essential libs out there. If it disappears today there will be no internet among many other things. Yet maintainers barely made a living until last year. And even now with lush corporate sponsorships they make less than an average programming day job. Hardly sustainable.
There are lots and lots of things besides FLOSS, that are "unsustainable" in the sense you described. Yet, all attempts to make them such failed miserably: think about public education and healthcare — same thing.
Well, life itself is "unsustainable", if you think about it long enough… It is extremely improbable to exist, and hard to sustain.
@amiloradovsky Life in a biological sense might be very probable. There was a great episode about it in PBS Spacetime show on YouTube.
Both public education and healthcare somehow managed to be half decent in the cradle of capitalism — Western Europe.
If the universe is, in a sense, infinite, the amount of sentient life in it may be infinite as well. But we at least may be sure it is spread pretty thin, with huge distances among the nearest civilizations.
The public services are "half decent" not because of a private capital, but the state funding. Plain, old-fashioned taxes, spent relatively wisely.
@amiloradovsky Taxation. OK. That’s a valid point. And actually might be a novel idea in sw sustainability. Why don’t we charge everyone using software project to finance its development?
It is done for scientific research for a long time: the states agree on the spendings, and, if all goes well, fund it from their own collected taxes, and the end result is available to everyone for free (modulo the copyright parasites — working on it).
It maybe a good idea to fund more of the s/w and h/w development this way. But, I guess, it's considered to be of a low priority, ATM. Not sure I agree with it though.
@pointlessone Pitfalls of OSS: there are so many. Toxic personalities, entitlement from all sides, a firm head-in-the-sand stance whenever the idea that any OSS might be problematic… there’s so many!
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