[SATLUG] F/OSS motivations

Todd W. Bucy toddwbucy at grandecom.net
Wed Aug 13 00:12:35 CDT 2008


On Tue, 2008-08-12 at 23:53 -0500, Tweeks wrote:
> On Tuesday 12 August 2008 02:26:09 pm Bruce Dubbs wrote:
> [...]
> > In my mind, the economy of F/OSS is closer to a trading economy.  The
> > difference is that the cost of reproduction is negligible, while the cost
> > of development is not.  The fact that there are people who take advantage
> > of the negligible reproduction costs without giving anything is not really
> > significant to the contributors.
> 
> Good points Bruce.  I would only add that the FOSS model is probably most 
> closely modeled by the peer review process in a patent free society (or at 
> least a non-patent-happy one).  This is why patents are the enemy of FOSS.. 
> the restrict and punish innovation.. while close source models thrive on it 
> (like leaches).  With closed source.. the "widget" you sell is the software.  
> With the FOSSmodel, the "widget" is purely a service... the software is 
> simply a free tool to deliver said services (a tool with well defined rights 
> of it's own.. but a tool none the less).
> 
from an anthropological point of view, what you both have described is a
gift-economic situation.  
> Yeah.. the "gift" idea doesn't jive with me either.  I mean how valuable is a 
> gift that you can copy and give out a billion billion times?  
Its not the particulars of the gift that is important when determining
whether or not F/OSS is a gift economy. Furthermore value is derived
from use not reproduction, in the case of F/OS software is ease of
repreduction may in fact increase its use value.
What is important is that individuals are giving within a particular
socio-cultural context, and that this giving drives the production,
distribution, development and reproduction of some cultural good, in
this case computer software.

It does interest me though your association of the word gift with
devaluation? could you elaborate on this?  are you associating gift with
some unique item that an individual gives to another individual? are you
saying that ones unique (in terms of individual time and labor)
contribution to say the Linux kernel, looses its uniqueness through its
reproduction?

thanks
Todd



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