[SATLUG] F/OSS motivations

Tweeks tweeksjunk2 at theweeks.org
Fri Aug 15 01:49:06 CDT 2008

On Wednesday 13 August 2008 12:12:35 am Todd W. Bucy wrote:
> 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?

No.. it's just that "gift" doesn't seem to fit the model well.  "Gift" would 
seem to imply intent of a giver doing an action (and intent) to the give-ee.. 
With FOSS.. the give-ee is incidental.  The giver is usually just a dev-geek 
trying to solve a problem for himself.  You might describe another player 
(other than the dev-geek) is the give-ee who sees the code and wants to use 
it to fix his own thing.  There's no connection between the dev-geek and and 
give-ee (as you would call them).. I might call the give-ee just "the user" 
of the FOSS solution.  Then you have a third player.. the consultant who uses 
the code to deliver a professional solution.

Thoughts Bruce?


> 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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