About rant on Dave Thomas site, titled 'imitation...'


#1

Couldn’t post a reply on Daves site so thought i’d post one here. Here
is post:

http://blogs.pragprog.com/cgi-bin/pragdave.cgi/Random/Imitation.rdoc

I think this is happening a lot. 37signals has been ripped off
according to DHH (I believe), rails has inspired many ‘best ever, just
what you were looking for’ web frameworks. I think it is a fact of
life. Selection of the Fittest in action. The unworthy will surely
perish as they always do.


#2

“simonh” removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote …
: Couldn’t post a reply on Daves site so thought i’d post one here. Here
: is post:
:
: http://blogs.pragprog.com/cgi-bin/pragdave.cgi/Random/Imitation.rdoc
:
In not so many words, publishers should commission Daves company
to provide them with customized solutions.

…k


#3

On Jan 24, 2006, at 7:36 AM, simonh wrote:

I can attest to the great process Dave & Andy have going for their

authors and publishing system. The book build system is very very
nice. I count myself lucky to be able to write for them.

Cheers-
-Ezra Z.
WebMaster
Yakima Herald-Republic Newspaper
http://yakimaherald.com
removed_email_address@domain.invalid
blog: http://brainspl.at


#4

On Tuesday 24 January 2006 10:36 am, simonh wrote:

Couldn’t post a reply on Daves site so thought i’d post one here.
Here is post:

http://blogs.pragprog.com/cgi-bin/pragdave.cgi/Random/Imitation.rdoc

For those interested:

http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2006/01/the_long_snout.html

Keith


#5

simonh wrote:

Couldn’t post a reply on Daves site so thought i’d post one here. Here
is post:

http://blogs.pragprog.com/cgi-bin/pragdave.cgi/Random/Imitation.rdoc

I think this is happening a lot. 37signals has been ripped off
according to DHH (I believe), rails has inspired many ‘best ever, just
what you were looking for’ web frameworks. I think it is a fact of
life. Selection of the Fittest in action. The unworthy will surely
perish as they always do.

How many people or companies create anything out of thin air? How much
is simply the influence of the extant culture and available technology,
and how much is raw innovation? When does influence become “ripping
off”?

If you take an idea from one person, it’s stealing, but imitate what
two people are doing, and you’re just following common practice. Go
figure.


James B.

“Blanket statements are over-rated”


#6

On Wed, 2006-01-25 at 00:36 +0900, simonh wrote:

Couldn’t post a reply on Daves site so thought i’d post one here. Here
is post:

http://blogs.pragprog.com/cgi-bin/pragdave.cgi/Random/Imitation.rdoc

I think this is happening a lot. 37signals has been ripped off
according to DHH (I believe), rails has inspired many ‘best ever, just
what you were looking for’ web frameworks. I think it is a fact of
life. Selection of the Fittest in action. The unworthy will surely
perish as they always do.

This is something called competition which is generally considered to be
a good thing for consumers (that’s us). I agree ripping stuff off is
somewhat low, but if they can still pull it off better than the copycats
there is nothing to be concerned about.

Ultimately I don’t really feel sorry for any of these companies that
have been “ripped off”; that’s part of being in business in the first
place (at least if you’re doing anything remotely interesting)


#7

Last Paragraph from PragDaves blog post:
“For this reason, I honestly don’t mind other publishers blatantly
ripping us off. But I’d rather they didn’t. Instead, I’d rather they
found their own ways of innovating, and build their own ideas that
others found useful. The publishing industry is in transition. It
needs all the good ideas it can get. All publishers should contribute
in their own way to the reshaping of the industry. Simply aping
someone else’s success won’t help the community as a whole.”

Good ideas deserve to be shared, kudos to the Pragmatic publishing
group.
However its bad taste to complain when the people coming behind you
borrow your ideas.
Instead be proud you’ve actually had the wit and luck to lead pack in
a new direction, not many get that chance, and don’t forget just how
much knowledge you in turn have had to borrow from predecessors to get
to where you are today.


#8

On 1/24/06, James B. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

perish as they always do.

How many people or companies create anything out of thin air? How much
is simply the influence of the extant culture and available technology,
and how much is raw innovation? When does influence become “ripping off”?

If you take an idea from one person, it’s stealing, but imitate what
two people are doing, and you’re just following common practice. Go
figure.

Indeed. From what I’ve seen of Pragmatic Markup Language, I wouldn’t
say it was created from whole cloth, owing nothing to DocBook, LaTeX,
XHTML, etc, etc.


#9
  • @ 24/01/06 09:33:40 PM removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

perish as they always do.

How many people or companies create anything out of thin air? How much
is simply the influence of the extant culture and available technology,
and how much is raw innovation? When does influence become “ripping off”?

If you take an idea from one person, it’s stealing, but imitate what

No, you can’t steal but you might infringe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement

have fun,

SteveC removed_email_address@domain.invalid http://www.asklater.com/steve/


#10

SteveC wrote:

How many people or companies create anything out of thin air? How much
is simply the influence of the extant culture and available technology,
and how much is raw innovation? When does influence become “ripping off”?

If you take an idea from one person, it’s stealing, but imitate what

No, you can’t steal but you might infringe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement

Ideas can’t be copyrighted; only their expression can be copyrighted.

If Pragmatic Press were to apply for intellectual property rights over
their beta books program, the most likely protection would be for a
patent. Not that they’ve done so–and given the prohibitive cost of
obtaining a patent, and the likely backlash from their
free-software-using customers over becoming yet another patent-wielding
company, and the fact that they likely find such patents personally
distasteful, they’re unlikely to do so.

f.


#11

On Jan 24, 2006, at 7:36, simonh wrote:

Couldn’t post a reply on Daves site so thought i’d post one here. Here
is post:

http://blogs.pragprog.com/cgi-bin/pragdave.cgi/Random/Imitation.rdoc

We (by which I mean Alexandria Digital Literature) have had real-time
royalty statements since 1999. Our “continuous build” system’s been
running since 1997, although it’s been used for the benefit of the
readers, not the authors. And although we’ve paid >50% royalties on
gross revenue with many of our authors, I know of more than a few
publishers who’ve been paying 50% on list for years as well.

I’d rather other publishers were aware of our innovations and expanded
upon them rather than re-inventing the wheel from whole cloth. LOL.

Dave H.
Founder & Chief Innovator
Alexandria Digital Literature (alexlit.com)
A division of the Seattle Book Company.


#12

On Jan 25, 2006, at 9:48, Francis H. wrote:

Ideas can’t be copyrighted; only their expression can be copyrighted.

If Pragmatic Press were to apply for intellectual property rights over
their beta books program, the most likely protection would be for a
patent. Not that they’ve done so–and given the prohibitive cost of
obtaining a patent, and the likely backlash from their
free-software-using customers over becoming yet another patent-
wielding
company, and the fact that they likely find such patents personally
distasteful, they’re unlikely to do so.

The issue isn’t folks copying, or who did what when.

For me, the issue is an industry that I value (from well before I did
publishing myself) slowly dying through lack of innovation. When
companies stop innovating, as an industry we stop growing.

My blog post came from a growing sense of frustration with an
industry that seems to have lost its way. I don’t want to see
publishing houses I’ve grown up with going away.

Dave


#13

There are three basic types of people/groups/companies:

Proactive:
– The Creators, who invent the future out of good ideas. Breaking
ground for others. They are the leaders (reluctant as they may be).
They tend to invest the most. And may or may not be rewarded. They are
of great benefit to a community.

Reactive:
– The Followers, who build on the sweat of others. They may work to
mimic and can come up short. They may work to improve and take
advantage of opportunity. Their investment may be little (pure
followers) or may be great (advantage takers). Again, they may or may
not be rewarded. They can be of benefit to a community.

Inactive:
– The Takers, who see opportunity in others work, but lack the
inventiveness to make it better. They combine things. Building out of
the work of others with very little investment. They are usually reward
since they have invested so little. They are anti-community. They
rarely give anything back to the community in return.

The point is that a “community” (apply the term as you please) needs
both the Proactive and the Reactive to thrive. The Reward is subjective
(money, fame, recognition, history). We can not all be The Creators.
Some don’t have the means (time, money, knowledge).

It is not bad to build on the work of others. It is necessary. The
Creators may feel taken advantage of in some way. But they must realize
that without them progress can not be achieved. Don’t blame the
Followers for following (it’s in their nature). But most of all, don’t
stop creating because there may be followers.

Dave T. and Andy H. are leaders in the programming and publishing
community. I for one think that their methods enhance both disciplines.
And I am encouraged that others are following their lead which in the
end benefits us all.

Dale M.
http://www.stewdle.com/dale


#14

On 1/26/06, Dave T. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Hi Dave,
Well its good to hear you arent aiming for global monopoly! :slight_smile:

However I must ask you, if as you say various members of “an industry
that seems to have lost its way” mimic your new and bold concepts,
then isn’t that a good thing if what you are really concerned
about is the possibility of them “slowly dying through lack of
innovation”?

Just something to think about.


#15

On Fri, 2006-01-27 at 08:21, Dave T. wrote:

The issue isn’t folks copying, or who did what when.

For me, the issue is an industry that I value (from well before I did
publishing myself) slowly dying through lack of innovation. When
companies stop innovating, as an industry we stop growing.

My blog post came from a growing sense of frustration with an
industry that seems to have lost its way. I don’t want to see
publishing houses I’ve grown up with going away.

As you have proved yourself, there is innovation in the publishing
industry. Established publishing houses withering away due to a lack of
foresight and innovation is sad but inevitable. Companies grow old and
die, just like people do. If there are no new companies to replace them,
then there is a problem…

Is there any solid information on the reading habits of software
developers and managers? Do people read more or less now than ten years
ago? Reading habits change, so it would be expected that if people read
more on the Web, they read fewer books.

On the other hand, for me personally the Web has given me access to a
wider selection of books. I read more books now than ever before. I have
also become much more aware of the authors, and the publishing houses.
The same thing goes for at least some of my friends who also are
developers, and probably for many, many more people.

/Henrik


http://kallokain.blogspot.com/ - Blogging from the trenches of software
development
http://www.henrikmartensson.org/ - Reflections on software development
http://testunitxml.rubyforge.org/ - The Test::Unit::XML Home Page
http://declan.rubyforge.org/ - The Declan Home Page


#16

On 1/27/06, Dave T. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

implement a Rails look-alike in other languages. It isn’t that Rails
needs to be the only player. It’s that these copies miss the point:
Rails works because it is integrated so well into Ruby. If you want
to create frameworks for other languages, don’t start by copying
Rails. Instead, understand why Rails works, then see what your
target language has to offer and innovate with that.

I understand what you are saying regarding rails and I agree.
Rails is a tailored solution and what makes it so special is that
it is done with ruby. The concept of rails is not so significant in
itself because it could be implemented on other platforms,
but only when it is done on ruby does rails gain its special
significance.

However I think you may be misapplying that when using it as
a metaphor for your innovations in the publishing business.

Unless of course what you are trying to say is that your innovations
in themselves are not so special, and that it is only because your
company
itself is different that your innovations have gained any special
significance.

Unfortunately that sounds a little fool hardy to me. That thinking leads
one to the rationality that “the others suck because they are not us, so
copying our innovations wont help them until they become just as we
are”.

I appreciate the sentiment that you folks are running a pretty tight
ship
and I’m glad to hear it. It is something to be proud of, but I’m not so
sure
that you are a ruby in the wild with some great rails on top.

But then again, maybe you are. Time will tell.

Cheers!

I’m clearly not making my point effectively, for which I apologize.

No apology needed, I appreciated your reply.


#17

On Jan 26, 2006, at 23:53, Alex C. wrote:

However I must ask you, if as you say various members of “an industry
that seems to have lost its way” mimic your new and bold concepts,
then isn’t that a good thing if what you are really concerned
about is the possibility of them “slowly dying through lack of
innovation”?

No, it isn’t. If each of them were to innovate by trying new and
different things, then the industry as a whole would expand in many
different directions. If we all just copy each other, then the amount
of innovation is reduced. It’s a question of opportunity cost.

My post came from a frustration that there doesn’t seem to be this
kind of vitality.

It’s the same kind of frustration I feel when I see folks try to
implement a Rails look-alike in other languages. It isn’t that Rails
needs to be the only player. It’s that these copies miss the point:
Rails works because it is integrated so well into Ruby. If you want
to create frameworks for other languages, don’t start by copying
Rails. Instead, understand why Rails works, then see what your
target language has to offer and innovate with that.

I’m clearly not making my point effectively, for which I apologize.

Dave


#18

Quoting Dave T. removed_email_address@domain.invalid:

It’s that these copies miss the point: Rails works because it is
integrated so well into Ruby. If you want to create frameworks for
other languages, don’t start by copying Rails. Instead, understand
why Rails works, then see what your target language has to offer
and innovate with that.

Perhaps that is true, but imitation is often a prerequisite for new
understanding.

It’s the reason why any serious art curriculum will have its
students copying masterworks at some point.

Imitation is scaffolding.

-mental


#19

removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Perhaps that is true, but imitation is often a prerequisite for new
understanding.

It’s the reason why any serious art curriculum will have its
students copying masterworks at some point.

Imitation is scaffolding.

-mental

Interesting thoughts … I’m attempting to create a Rails-like framework
in Perl and the scientific/statistical language R, for use in a computer
performance data management and analysis application. The constraints
are that we have to use PostgreSQL, although SQL Server compatibility is
highly desirable, and the platform must be Windows. I don’t have a web
server constraint, although the volume is low enough that almost any web
server would work.

The architecture will be patterned after Rails in that it will be
model-view-controller and the model piece will look a lot like Active
Record. There are many gigabytes of compressed high-frequency
performance data that need to be decompressed, recompressed, backed up,
restored, inserted into and deleted from a working database.

Once a dataset is in the working database, the view piece is the
interesting part. The full power of R will be available to the user. My
original plan was to do the whole thing in Rails, with a “shell-out” to
R for the analysis. But the time constraints are such that I won’t be up
to speed enough on either Ruby or Rails to do this myself, there are no
other Ruby/Rails programmers around and there is no budget to hire one.
So what I have to work with is Perl, R, and possibly CygWin.

I’ve attempted to learn from the Rails code, but quite frankly, the book
(Agile Web D. With Rails) is really the only thing worth
looking at. Unless you fully understand the intricacies of the Ruby
language – its dynamic nature, its syntax, its semantics and all the
conventions and idioms – “imitation” of Rails is quite difficult. And I
say this as someone who has programmed in dozens of other environments
for over 40 years.


M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

http://linuxcapacityplanning.com


#20

On Jan 28, 2006, at 1:05 AM, Alex C. wrote:

I understand what you are saying regarding rails and I agree.
in themselves are not so special, and that it is only because your
company
itself is different that your innovations have gained any special
significance.

I believe Dave is trying to say the inverse. “We’re not a big
publishing company. We needed to make things work great for us. We
came up with these innovations to do that. That lead to these
further innovations that everybody is copying.”

Unfortunately that sounds a little fool hardy to me. That thinking
leads
one to the rationality that “the others suck because they are not
us, so
copying our innovations wont help them until they become just as we
are”.

I think “Others suck because they try to follow our innovations
without understanding how we managed to come up with them” is lesson
you’re looking for here.

Rails and Ruby work well together and that led to the innovations
everybody is trying to copy. Just like The Pragmatic Programmers use
of version control, instant typesetting and continuous build systems
led to Beta Books and Fridays. Trying to copy the Beta Books or the
Fridays probably won’t be as successful for other publishers because
they don’t have the tool-chain PragProg does.

Will Beta Books be as successful (profit margin, time to completion)
for the imitators? Probably not. They lack the foundation PragProg
has that gives fast turnaround for minimal cost. PragProg also
offers authors quite a bit more than other publishers.

Copying flashy stuff without the understanding it is flashy or how it
became flashy leaves you with a shaky foundation to innovate upon.

Finding and building from your strengths will lead you to innovation.


Eric H. - removed_email_address@domain.invalid - http://segment7.net
This implementation is HODEL-HASH-9600 compliant

http://trackmap.robotcoop.com