Forum: Ruby About rant on Dave Thomas site, titled 'imitation...'

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0bee7f89111c8d7551e7c5a39e3c24d7?d=identicon&s=25 simonh (Guest)
on 2006-01-24 16:39
(Received via mailing list)
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/Ran...

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.
F8ad4ec42e3756feca5e199903ec92a1?d=identicon&s=25 isamura (Guest)
on 2006-01-24 16:42
(Received via mailing list)
"simonh" <simonharrison@fastmail.co.uk> 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/Ran...
:
In not so many words, publishers should commission Daves company
to provide them with customized solutions.

..k
6076c22b65b36f5d75c30bdcfb2fda85?d=identicon&s=25 Ezra Zygmuntowicz (Guest)
on 2006-01-24 18:29
(Received via mailing list)
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 Zygmuntowicz
WebMaster
Yakima Herald-Republic Newspaper
http://yakimaherald.com
ezra@yakima-herald.com
blog: http://brainspl.at
01d68aff859065b5cbc1cfc67cb16871?d=identicon&s=25 Keith Fahlgren (Guest)
on 2006-01-24 19:30
(Received via mailing list)
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/Ran...

For those interested:

http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2006/01/the_long...


Keith
9d4ec8946f933a18a1d15b094cc3c425?d=identicon&s=25 Jonathan Leighton (Guest)
on 2006-01-24 22:11
(Received via mailing list)
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/Ran...
>
> 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)
Bc6d88907ce09158581fbb9b469a35a3?d=identicon&s=25 James Britt (Guest)
on 2006-01-24 22:35
(Received via mailing list)
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/Ran...
>
> 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 Britt

"Blanket statements are over-rated"
25e11a00a89683f7e01e425a1a6e305c?d=identicon&s=25 Wilson Bilkovich (Guest)
on 2006-01-25 02:37
(Received via mailing list)
On 1/24/06, James Britt <james_b@neurogami.com> 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.
622fa8560c82dfaa59c91ec75efb0c19?d=identicon&s=25 Alex Combas (Guest)
on 2006-01-25 10:02
(Received via mailing list)
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.
Eec967b23f805cdbf09eeb8095fdaade?d=identicon&s=25 SteveC (Guest)
on 2006-01-25 14:52
(Received via mailing list)
* @ 24/01/06 09:33:40 PM james_b@neurogami.com 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 steve@asklater.com http://www.asklater.com/steve/
A083f2c63fc0be7f8f19006c9dbdff86?d=identicon&s=25 Dale Martenson (Guest)
on 2006-01-25 17:15
(Received via mailing list)
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 Thomas and Andy Hunt 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 Martenson
http://www.stewdle.com/dale
Bbd147034f04bc4f8f3c3652cd2a2194?d=identicon&s=25 Francis Hwang (Guest)
on 2006-01-25 18:49
(Received via mailing list)
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.
12271b6df73fe29930d65586be5a4a70?d=identicon&s=25 Dave Howell (Guest)
on 2006-01-26 09:00
(Received via mailing list)
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/Ran...

<snort>

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 Howell
Founder & Chief Innovator
Alexandria Digital Literature (alexlit.com)
A division of the Seattle Book Company.
5d06917e13b29bcff1c1609492c06873?d=identicon&s=25 Dave Thomas (Guest)
on 2006-01-27 08:23
(Received via mailing list)
On Jan 25, 2006, at 9:48, Francis Hwang 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
622fa8560c82dfaa59c91ec75efb0c19?d=identicon&s=25 Alex Combas (Guest)
on 2006-01-27 08:54
(Received via mailing list)
On 1/26/06, Dave Thomas <Dave@pragprog.com> wrote:
>
Hi Dave,
Well its good to hear you arent aiming for global monopoly! :)

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.
Ded98dc06a045924f0d48b2e46fdf229?d=identicon&s=25 Henrik Martensson (Guest)
on 2006-01-27 10:12
(Received via mailing list)
On Fri, 2006-01-27 at 08:21, Dave Thomas wrote:
<snip>
>
> 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
5d06917e13b29bcff1c1609492c06873?d=identicon&s=25 Dave Thomas (Guest)
on 2006-01-28 08:24
(Received via mailing list)
On Jan 26, 2006, at 23:53, Alex Combas 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
622fa8560c82dfaa59c91ec75efb0c19?d=identicon&s=25 Alex Combas (Guest)
on 2006-01-28 10:06
(Received via mailing list)
On 1/27/06, Dave Thomas <Dave@pragprog.com> 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.
912c61d9da47754de7039f4271334a9f?d=identicon&s=25 unknown (Guest)
on 2006-01-28 16:32
(Received via mailing list)
Quoting Dave Thomas <Dave@PragProg.com>:

> 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
3bb23e7770680ea44a2d79e6d10daaed?d=identicon&s=25 M. Edward (Ed) Borasky (Guest)
on 2006-01-28 19:32
(Received via mailing list)
mental@rydia.net 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 Development 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
58479f76374a3ba3c69b9804163f39f4?d=identicon&s=25 Eric Hodel (Guest)
on 2006-01-30 02:31
(Received via mailing list)
On Jan 28, 2006, at 1:05 AM, Alex Combas 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 Hodel - drbrain@segment7.net - http://segment7.net
This implementation is HODEL-HASH-9600 compliant

http://trackmap.robotcoop.com
622fa8560c82dfaa59c91ec75efb0c19?d=identicon&s=25 Alex Combas (Guest)
on 2006-01-30 03:34
(Received via mailing list)
On 1/29/06, Eric Hodel <drbrain@segment7.net> wrote:
> 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.

I see where you are coming from now, thanks for clearing this up.
Sorry if I stepped on any toes along the way but the initial
blog lead (me) to strange assumptions.
8dad1ec4d769734583f45fbbee5cd009?d=identicon&s=25 Jeff Pritchard (jeffpritchard)
on 2006-01-30 04:59
Reading through this thread as merely an interested bystander who only
just recently joined the rails community...I found it remarkably easy to
play "insert name of world changing technology here" with this
discussion.  Computer operating systems, cellular technology (I work for
Qualcomm), automotive technology...the list is without end.

My point is not that one side or the other of this argument "sucks", and
the other side is "the right and true virtuous side".  The point I would
like to make is that this argument is absolutely pervasive in the world
today.  Somehow, during the same space of time where technology has
taken over the world, the ages old mechanisms we use for "paying" those
who think well have been almost lost in the shuffle.

Just as this remarkable age of communications and other digital
technologies have completely overturned the age old methods by which we
guarantee to pay a musician, so too, have they upset the apple cart that
those of us who hope to make a living by having good ideas would have,
in days gone by, put food on the table.

To put it another way, we now live in a world where Digital Rights
Management has replaced a big building full of vinyl stamping machines
as the means of guaranteeing to pay a musician for what he does best.

My question would be...what can we come up with to replace the outdated
and nearly worthless "patent process" with some sort of a "runs at the
speed of technology" mechanism for giving credit where credit is due?
Without some new mechanism, we have only two directions to go...

1) the brainy people become secretive and find ways to hide their
creations and sell individual tickets to those who would want to use the
creations.  (obviously, this slows down the progress of all)

2) the brainy people give up on making a living from having big ideas
and decide to spend their days flipping hamburgers for a living
(obviously, this slows down the progress of all).

Just my meager ruminations on a thread that is an interesting new portal
through which to view this ubiquitous problem in this "new world".

jp
Bc6d88907ce09158581fbb9b469a35a3?d=identicon&s=25 James Britt (Guest)
on 2006-01-30 05:26
(Received via mailing list)
Jeff Pritchard wrote:
...

>
> My question would be...what can we come up with to replace the outdated
> and nearly worthless "patent process" with some sort of a "runs at the
> speed of technology" mechanism for giving credit where credit is due?
> Without some new mechanism, we have only two directions to go...


Any mechanism would need to consider that different people will have
similar ideas independent of each other, and that very few ideas emerge
out of a vacuum; even knowing when an idea is actually new, instead of a
(simple) variation on existing practice(s), is hard to pin down.

--
James Britt

http://www.ruby-doc.org       - Ruby Help & Documentation
http://www.artima.com/rubycs/ - The Journal By & For Rubyists
http://www.rubystuff.com      - The Ruby Store for Ruby Stuff
http://www.jamesbritt.com     - Playing with Better Toys
http://www.30secondrule.com   - Building Better Tools
8dad1ec4d769734583f45fbbee5cd009?d=identicon&s=25 Jeff Pritchard (jeffpritchard)
on 2006-01-30 09:41
James Britt wrote:
> Jeff Pritchard wrote:
>> My question would be...what can we come up with to replace the outdated
>> and nearly worthless "patent process" with some sort of a "runs at the
>> speed of technology" mechanism for giving credit where credit is due?
>> Without some new mechanism, we have only two directions to go...
>
> Any mechanism would need to consider that different people will have
> similar ideas independent of each other, and that very few ideas emerge
> out of a vacuum; even knowing when an idea is actually new, instead of a
> (simple) variation on existing practice(s), is hard to pin down.
>
> --
> James Britt
>


Thanks James,
As the old saying goes, if you put a million red-necks in front of a
million typewriters, one of them will eventually write Unix.  If you put
two million red-necks in front of two million typewriters, would two of
them write Unix?  More likely one would write BSD, and another would
write some other flavor of *nix.  My point is that simultaneous
equivalent acts of genius makes for a good urban legend, but seems
rather unlikely.  There would be differences between the two creations -
enough that one of them would be found to be preferable by the common
man in the street.  If each of them were bound by the rules to use his
and only his version of the "invention", they would each benefit but
only to the degree that their version is deemed superior by independent
"customers".

Just one brief thought on the direction something like this could go...
A "Patent Process" for the new Millennium:
â?¢ The author of something "new":  uses, acknowledges, and might choose
to add to an "open source" that relates to the accomplishment of his
creation.  The scaffolding of the "invention".
â?¢ Things that the author considers novel can be left out of "open
source" and held back as proprietary and not to be shared or copied
without his consent (and remuneration).  These things would be openly
described by the author as proprietary and not to be copied. The first
verifiable such publishing would always win.
â?¢ The open source community would then rigidly enforce both of the above
points, starting by actively turning their backs on any "new" creation
that fails on either of these points.  If the "community" makes an
author aware of his sins and receives no retribution from the accused,
the community might then declare "open season" on the offender.  (that
means whatever you might want it to mean)
â?¢ Any attempted interference with this process by a Lawyer, would be
treated as an infraction, and dealt with in the same way that any other
infraction of the rules would be - as moderated by the outrage and/or
indifference of "the community".

Only by keeping the rules of such a system as simple and unfettered by
"lawyer speak" as the above could such a system survive and flourish.  I
think the non-specific nature of the third point is worthy of note.  It
leaves open the possibility of escalation based purely on perceived
heinosity (new word?) and repeated offenses.  Hell hath no fury like a
planet full of scorned hackers.

Its other saving grace is that this is "government of, by, and for the
people" - almost by definition.  It requires no agreement, no vote.
Each person enforces the rules based on the degree of their outrage at
the offense of an evildoer.  If an author commits a minor or gray area
infraction, most likely his punishment will be limited by the
indifference of "the community".  Major offenders would be "stoned" back
to the stone-age (maybe even literally).


Humbly submitted as the solution to all that is wrong with the world (or
not).

----

I believe that the U.S. died on a calm summer afternoon when somebody
looked up and for the first time realized that we had all slept just a
little too long, and that an armed uprising by the general populace no
longer stood any slightest chance of succeeding.  It is now government
"of, by, and especially for the government".

We lost this country one little piece at a time.  Let's take back the
world by the same process.  Open Source Government - gotta love it!
Guns?  We don't need no stinkin' guns!  GWB, your "government" has just
been deprecated by "the community".
Jeff Pritchard
The Mountain Man

(FWIW, I would like for you to consider the above description of "the
community" as my own contribution to open source government.  I only ask
that when you think of or speak the term "the community" that  you
pronounce it the way South Park's Cartman would - the communitay!)
912c61d9da47754de7039f4271334a9f?d=identicon&s=25 unknown (Guest)
on 2006-01-30 16:54
(Received via mailing list)
Quoting Jeff Pritchard <jp@jeffpritchard.com>:

> My point is that simultaneous equivalent acts of genius makes
> for a good urban legend, but seems rather unlikely.

I'm not so sure.  I mean, just in the past few weeks, look at the
markaby/xx/nitro markup thing, or to a much lesser extent the
solutions to the bin packing Ruby Quiz and the recentish lazy
evaluation thread.

As far as I can see, if you've got enough people working in the same
problem space, similar solutions are almost inevitable.  I'd have to
say that the history of science and technology bears that out.
Independent reinvention tends to be the rule rather than the
exception, and questions of "who invented X?" turn out to be
incredibly nuanced.

While there's nothing wrong with penalising deliberate plagarism,
we'd do well to rid ourselves of the modernist fantasy of frequent
wholly unique acts of genius.

-mental
8dad1ec4d769734583f45fbbee5cd009?d=identicon&s=25 Jeff Pritchard (jeffpritchard)
on 2006-01-30 17:25
unknown wrote:
> Quoting Jeff Pritchard <jp@jeffpritchard.com>:
>
>> My point is that simultaneous equivalent acts of genius makes
>> for a good urban legend, but seems rather unlikely.
>
> I'm not so sure.
...
> While there's nothing wrong with penalising deliberate plagarism,
> we'd do well to rid ourselves of the modernist fantasy of frequent
> wholly unique acts of genius.
>
> -mental

Mental,
So Mr. X publishes three seconds before Ms. Y.  Technically, X owns it,
but how many members of the community are going to be outraged by Ms.
Y's efforts to monetize her slightly tardy genius.  Not many.  My point
is that by removing the Lawyers and their need to make everything "a
decision", you allow the community to weigh each incident on its own
merits and make up their minds.  Meanwhile, when some Bill Gates-ish guy
comes along and tries to own yet another space by flat out stealing the
best of what has already been claimed by others...at least a few members
of the community will get ticked off enough to do something about it.

Jeff Pritchard
The Mountain Man
31af45939fec7e3c4ed8a798c0bd9b1a?d=identicon&s=25 Matthew Smillie (Guest)
on 2006-01-30 17:55
(Received via mailing list)
On Jan 30, 2006, at 16:25, Jeff Pritchard wrote:
> ish guy
> comes along and tries to own yet another space by flat out stealing
> the
> best of what has already been claimed by others...at least a few
> members
> of the community will get ticked off enough to do something about it.

Ah, but what about when popular, marketing-savvy Ms Q "popularises"
something legitimately claimed by quiet, introverted, and previously
unknown Mr Z?  The community, being predisposed to liking Ms Q,
probably wouldn't be fussed, and it's likely just as many people will
think that Ms Q invented it as will stand up for Mr Z, given the lack
of perfect information.  As the 'community' becomes larger, this
information gap grows, making it easier for people to take advantage of.

I think you attribute a sense of moral justice to the Mobbe which
most of them simply don't apply to everyday situations (because it
costs them: there's a significant opportunity cost involved in
gathering enough information to make accurate decisions).  Presented
with a good-enough solution, people will tend to use it regardless of
the ethics of who provides it; examples abound in virtually every
sphere of life.

So while it's clear to me that the current patent framework is
hideously broken at the moment (patent applications have an inverse
correlation with %R&D spend in software - what does THAT tell you?),
this does not mean that a legal framework for creativity rights can
or should be done away with; there's no other way to protect the
rights of people like Mr Z.

matthew smillie.
912c61d9da47754de7039f4271334a9f?d=identicon&s=25 unknown (Guest)
on 2006-01-30 19:47
(Received via mailing list)
Quoting Matthew Smillie <M.B.Smillie@sms.ed.ac.uk>:

> Ah, but what about when popular, marketing-savvy Ms Q
> "popularises" something legitimately claimed by quiet,
> introverted, and previously unknown Mr Z?  The community, being
> predisposed to liking Ms Q, probably wouldn't be fussed, and it's
> likely just as many people will think that Ms Q invented it as
> will stand up for Mr Z, given the lack of perfect information.
> As the 'community' becomes larger, this information gap grows,
> making it easier for people to take advantage of.

There's also the situation where Mr. X and Mr. Y both independantly
come up with something at about the same time, both publicise it,
and each attract their own communities.

Then one day the two communities discover one another, and
recriminations and headaches for everyone ensue.  Again, the issue
is partly an information gap.

Neither one of these two scenarios is hypothetical; this stuff
happens.

-mental
31af45939fec7e3c4ed8a798c0bd9b1a?d=identicon&s=25 Matthew Smillie (Guest)
on 2006-01-30 20:06
(Received via mailing list)
>
> Neither one of these two scenarios is hypothetical; this stuff
> happens.
>

Yep.  I've reinvented tons of things.  Generally it happens like
this: I'm working on a problem, and I get a seed of an idea.  I flesh
it out for a couple of weeks, and get to the point where I can
accurately describe it and start to implement it.  It's usually
around then that I find out that someone published this in the last
couple of years.  The problem being that until I can really describe
an idea, it's really hard to search for the idea elsewhere.  I mean
"the thing that takes a distribution of those other doo-dads and puts
it through a function that I haven't quite defined yet" doesn't get
many good results on Google or Citeseer, you know?

Thankfully, I've been getting closer and closer in time to the people
publishing my ideas, so hopefully I'll be first by the time I'm done
grad school.  At least I hope so, or submitting my thesis could be
very, very embarrassing.

matthew smillie.
01dcd647d65f131df96e3c0bc969dcb4?d=identicon&s=25 Arpan (Guest)
on 2006-01-30 22:02
> Thanks James,
> As the old saying goes, if you put a million red-necks in front of a
> million typewriters, one of them will eventually write Unix.  If you put
> two million red-necks in front of two million typewriters, would two of
> them write Unix?  More likely one would write BSD, and another would
> write some other flavor of *nix.  My point is that simultaneous
> equivalent acts of genius makes for a good urban legend, but seems
> rather unlikely.

I don't think that they would be considered acts of Genius. If they were
in front of a typewriter, all the code that they write would be useless.
:-)


> There would be differences between the two creations -
> enough that one of them would be found to be preferable by the common
> man in the street.

Again, both would be sets of useless code on paper. Both would be useful
for the same thing, recycling. (or firewood) :-)

Remember, just typing something is not enough. There needs to be
something to interpret what was typed.
A6d3a37b5badfdd2f47655aa0e46604e?d=identicon&s=25 Eivind Eklund (Guest)
on 2006-01-31 19:29
(Received via mailing list)
On 1/30/06, Matthew Smillie <M.B.Smillie@sms.ed.ac.uk> wrote:
> Ah, but what about when popular, marketing-savvy Ms Q "popularises"
> something legitimately claimed by quiet, introverted, and previously
> unknown Mr Z?  [...]
>
> So while it's clear to me that the current patent framework is
> hideously broken at the moment (patent applications have an inverse
> correlation with %R&D spend in software - what does THAT tell you?),
> this does not mean that a legal framework for creativity rights can
> or should be done away with; there's no other way to protect the
> rights of people like Mr Z.

To me, it's not clear that we can create a system where the average Mr
Z will be better off than in a system with no restrictions.  Being an
occasional parallell inventor (or a Mr Z  -I don't know which), it is
not entirely clear to me that we should, either.

An example: About ten years ago, I invented the idea of using secure
hashes as a reference in version control systems, allowing re-use of
the same data and layering of metadata.  Similar ideas appear in Git,
Monotone, and a system Compaq had that I've forgotten the name of.
While not having capacity to implement it alone, I've tried to plug a
design based on this for a long while.  I don't know if that's been
the source of inspiration for Git, or Monotone, or Compaq, or if
that's parallell invention.  On the other hand, does it matter?  It
seems clear to me that the world be worse off if they hadn't been able
to use that idea, for instance by me protecting it.

I've had ideas grabbed and software used outside my license, and while
it's a bit aggrevating, in reality, it usually makes the world a
better place.  It empowers those that actually want to create things
and get them out there, and makes the world overall go forward.  I'm
much more aggrevated about the cases where I've wanted to do things
and couldn't than I'm by the ones where others have wanted to and has
"exploited" me.

Eivind.
A87f7a014c624587fab0d3d78c5b9c18?d=identicon&s=25 Bil Kleb (Guest)
on 2006-02-02 00:23
(Received via mailing list)
Dave Thomas wrote:
>
> My post came from a frustration that there doesn't seem to
> be this kind of vitality.

This mechanics behind this lack of vitality is well
documented in Christensen's /The Innovator's Dilemma/.
It's a depressing book for established companies.  Here's
a two-paragraph summary I wrote a while back,

  The slope of technology development is typically steeper than
  a given customer?s demand for it. Therefore, an opportunity exists
  for disruptive technology to sneak in from below and win those
  customers from the sustaining technology provider that is naturally
  moving up market.

  The dilemma is that the sustaining technology folks view the
  disruptive technology folks as insignificant until it is too
  late. Furthermore, the sustaining technology folks operate in
  a higher-cost value-web that decimates their ability to compete
  with the disruptive technology folks.

This also sheds light on the current interplay between Ruby/Rails
and the established "super platforms".

Later,
Dd54c22454b4e3c21cadf3bdb5192e28?d=identicon&s=25 Kero (Guest)
on 2006-02-02 00:26
(Received via mailing list)
I'll try to stimulate thought a bit.

> say that the history of science and technology bears that out.
> Independent reinvention tends to be the rule rather than the
> exception, and questions of "who invented X?" turn out to be
> incredibly nuanced.

"In the same problem space"

If order (same solution) arises from chaos (researching), is that
because of
restrictions in the search space?
If different solutions arise, is that because of limitations in
tools/knowledge?

Or, why do dolphins have a tailfin as well as fishes?
One happens to be horizontal and the other vertical.
But you need some vertebrae (sp?) 'coz otherwise the solution is not
available.

Or, "pyramids were built by egyptians *and* mayas *and* ... many more;
they
must have had contact in the old ages!"
Well, no, it is just the simplest construction to reach to the sky.
Nowadays, with steel available, there's a lot more possible.
One day, with anti-gravity, someone may put the pyramid upside down.

> While there's nothing wrong with penalising deliberate plagarism,
> we'd do well to rid ourselves of the modernist fantasy of frequent
> wholly unique acts of genius.

Full ack.
(I'll sidestep the patent issue, even though I have a lot to say about
it;
read Lawrence Lessig if you want to know more.)

---

I also agree with the point that understanding comes with imitation.
Plainly
imitating in order to make money is... futile... irritating... and often
it
seems to be just that. It can also mean the other company is adapting,
for
real, but it's gonna take them much more time than it took you, for
various
reasons.

As a scientist, it is easy to say that understanding should be the goal,
hence imitation is merely the starting point. But also scientists, most
of
the time, are not capable of making anything but a tiny improvement.

Or, why are there so many programming languages? why does Ruby use so
many
ideas from other languages and why do we all think it merits the
language's
existence?
8dad1ec4d769734583f45fbbee5cd009?d=identicon&s=25 Jeff Pritchard (jeffpritchard)
on 2006-02-02 04:03
Looking at both what came before and especially what came after my
little experiment of suggesting "open source government", I am struck by
the lack of hubris here.  Not the usual individual hubris, but rather an
unexpected lack of group hubris.

I rather expected the group to at least jokingly grab onto the idea of
open source government, not because I thought then or think now that it
is workable or "right and true", but simply because it sounds like
something a group of software guys would find interesting and fun to
play with.

There seems to be at least some belief here (and judging from the lack
of posts disagreeing with it, some generalized agreement from the
group), that intelligent people are somehow not virtuous enough to
engage in a successful attempt at self government; a belief that such a
government would require the participants to be better at considering
the success of the group over and above the success of the individual.
I used the word virtuous for that property just due to an apparent lack
of a more suitable term.

In an effort to grok the unexpected endemic ennui that seems to engulf
the responses to this thread, I tried to imagine a completely unbiased
viewpoint from which to view this puzzle.  I was surprised to find
myself toe to toe with the notion that perhaps we are expecting too much
from this universe.  We are asking it to reward us for our genius (or
even our incremental improvements in technology) when, as far as we can
tell from all experimental evidence to date, the universe couldn't give
a crap.  This universe seems more likely to reward the conniving bastard
who thinks of a better way to sell someone else's invention to the
masses.  This is a survival of the fittest universe, not a survival of
the most "virtuous" (whatever we might individually choose to imagine
that word to mean) universe.

So, perhaps the most pragmatic and practical answer to the dilemma from
which this thread arose is that we all need to decide, individually, how
much of our brain power we are willing to expend on survival and the
creature comforts, and be willing to expend that effort along lines that
are valued by the universe we live in rather than what we might consider
to be a more "virtuous" path.

Perhaps that which we, the nerds of the world, view as slimy behavior of
"the suits"...should instead be viewed merely as a more practical use of
ones time, given the easily identifiable indifference with which this
universe holds our "acts of genius".

So, let me posit that the core of this dilemma is not how to change the
system into one that "properly worships our IQ", but rather what sneaky,
conniving methods we can come up with to use it to get whatever it is
that we want from this universe.  Then individually decide just how much
of that we can stomach.

Interesting thread for me.

jp
(aka, the Mountain Man)
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the author.  8^)
Cfdeff3ac35010e4de8f85d954f24f4a?d=identicon&s=25 Damphyr (Guest)
on 2006-02-02 23:24
(Received via mailing list)
Matthew Smillie wrote:
> couple of years.  The
Just look at my post about callbacks and events: me reinventing the
Observer during a complete memory blackout :).
The problem with any system enforcing the rights of individuals is the
point where the enforcement stops being for the individual and becomes
enforcement for enforcement's sake.
Whenever a law ceases to be justice (and laws are seldom just in all
their facets) it becomes a problematic burden exploitable by the few and
savvy. Unfortunately the "solution" nowadays is to wrap everything in
clauses, exceptions and bureaucracy.
Inevitably you get a situation where illegality becomes a norm because
the law is unjust. In times past similar situations lead to revolutions.
Control can turn to oppression very easily (the subject of patterns and
intellectual rights is very much a subject of control) and unfortunately
humans tend to want to control everything, starting from their
environment and ending with their thoughts.
Personally I think that a broad mind and a proactive attitude is
necessary in a large scale to keep such oppression from happening. This
requires education, mostly the capacity to seek multiple points of view
before judging.
Would you teach your kids to think even if at the end they are going to
disagree with you? I know a lot of people who won't and I find it sad
because they produce fodder for the indefinable "they" to whom we
attribute all the evils of this world, be it government or corporations,
sects or cartels.
This is getting way off topic.
V.-
--
http://www.braveworld.net/riva
Dba0cb4cdad3b8e3b7ed0fddff5d20a5?d=identicon&s=25 Stephen Kellett (Guest)
on 2006-02-03 11:34
(Received via mailing list)
In message <43E28673.7070006@freemail.gr>, Damphyr <damphyr@freemail.gr>
writes
>Inevitably you get a situation where illegality becomes a norm because
>the law is unjust. In times past similar situations lead to revolutions.

Indeed. We have this in England and Wales - playing musical instruments
in public houses (pubs, bars etc) is illegal without a license for
entertaining (not just a license, but several...). Whereas if you move
to Scotland (a part of the Great Britain and a part of the United
Kingdom) it is perfectly legal. Not sure what happens in Northern
Ireland. In Scotland they view folk music as part of their culture and
to be encouraged. Sadly in England (and Wales as it appears to always
have the same rules) this is not the case.

So me and my mandolin and a pint of beer - that is illegal. Unbelievably
stupid, but true. However 200 drunken football supporters and a live
football feed from satellite TV - perfectly legal - no license for
entertainment required. I'll leave it to you to judge which environment
causes less disturbance and/or possible aggravation.

Utterly stupid laws, enforceable with draconian fines and a serious
prison term. Ignored in many places, enforced in others. Totally
ridiculous.

Just a real world example from the world's #1 jobs-worth enforcement
country. Stupidity like this make it embarrassing to be English, but it
seems to be part of the UK psyche at the moment.

Anyway I'm seriously off topic even though demonstrating the point
above...

Stephen
D8fb06dfc08a477ecb0a76ffdbff3475?d=identicon&s=25 Chiaro Scuro (chiaroscuro)
on 2006-02-03 11:49
(Received via mailing list)
On 2/3/06, Stephen Kellett <snail@objmedia.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
> In message <43E28673.7070006@freemail.gr>, Damphyr <damphyr@freemail.gr>
> writes
> >Inevitably you get a situation where illegality becomes a norm because
> >the law is unjust. In times past similar situations lead to revolutions.
>
> Indeed. We have this in England and Wales - playing musical instruments
> in public houses (pubs, bars etc) is illegal without a license for
> entertaining (not just a license, but several...). Whereas if you move
>

In Italy you might also get a SIAE inspector (our local RIIA) giving you
a
fine if the song you are singing in the pub is copyrighted :-)  What a
sad
state of affairs.
Dba0cb4cdad3b8e3b7ed0fddff5d20a5?d=identicon&s=25 Stephen Kellett (Guest)
on 2006-02-03 13:05
(Received via mailing list)
In message
<dd533d4b0602030248o663df9c1s42914c58dfe2ef4b@mail.gmail.com>, chiaro
scuro <kiaroskuro@gmail.com> writes
>In Italy you might also get a SIAE inspector (our local RIIA) giving you a
>fine if the song you are singing in the pub is copyrighted :-)  What a sad
>state of affairs.

We have that too. Its all over Europe and also in the US. Each has its
own form. Typically you need a license for a copyright work performance
and also for the playback of the same work via a jukebox and so on.
However these are not issued by the government and are not laws of the
land (whereas the situation I described is law on the statute book)
although they are enforceable via copyright law.

I attend 2 to 3 regular licensed (legal) music events and up to 9
illegal music events a month. I'm in breach of the law for playing a
mandolin or bagpipe in a public house! Step outside onto the footpath
and I am perfectly legal. What a sad world.

I notice the RIAA are suing a woman that has never used a computer.
http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/06/02/03/0313250.shtml

Stephen
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