9.617 CareWare

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Mon, 11 Mar 1996 22:29:55 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 617.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@phoenix.princeton.edu> (69)
Subject: CareWare

The following has been taken from the help file of an HTML editor called The
WebThing. It defines a new kind of software distribution, which the author,
Paul Lutus, calls "CareWare". Naive, perhaps, but I can imagine worse.

Oregon really is an unusual place. I know this from having lived there for a
few years, while attending Reed College (in the late 1960s), in Portland.

In the spirit of the following, I can recommend one of Akira Kurosawa's
masterpieces, the film Ikiru ("To Live").


CareWare - What is it?

WebThing is one example of a new software distribution system developed by
the author. In the CareWare system, you don't owe any money to anyone. By
the way, if someone made you pay for WebThing, you were cheated. You should
go back and demand a refund. WebThing is freely available on the Internet
and, because I own the copyright, no one has the right make you pay for it
except me, and I'm not going to.

But you are not off the hook yet. The "Payment" for a CareWare program is
not monetary. You have to make a different kind of payment altogether. Let
me explain.

Most Americans are totally dissatisfied with everything. It is too hot, too
cold, too wet, too dry. If we have a free day, we are unhappy because we
don't have two free days. And just about the time we figure out that we are
supposed to appreciate the world as it is, we fall over and die.

So here's your payment for WebThing:

Imagine you have only two hours to live:

Is there something important you have to say to someone, something you might
regret not having said? If you were to die, would that person always wonder
what you really thought or felt?
Is there a pretty spot you have always wanted to visit, sit under a tree,
Have you ever experienced the shock of noticing how beautiful ordinary
things are, once it dawns on you that you might not be around very long?

If you are an old person (like me):

Do you speak to young people in a way that they will be encouraged to grow
up and expect to be happy and productive?
When you correct a young person, do you ask yourself "Is this mostly for my
benefit, or mostly for his?"

If you are a young person:

Do you try to be patient with old people, even though most of us are
complete morons?
Do you try to live in the world as though you belonged here, as though what
you do matters to everyone, to the world itself, to you?
Do you appreciate the small, free beauties of life, and not expect to buy
anything very important?

Look at this list. If you already belong to this list, if this list already
reflects your behavior and values, then you already own your copy of
WebThing. In a sense, you owned it before it was written.

If you don't feel a kinship with the statements in the list, then please do
one or more of the things listed there. Maybe change how you talk to a young
person, or someone whose life would be improved if you related to him or her
differently. Or just allow a sense of wonder to re-enter your life, a sense
that nothing is deserved and everything contains hidden beauty. And that
sometimes beauty is not so much hidden as unobserved.

I would like it if you lived your entire life as though each day was your
last, as though every small action mattered, in the way that it does when
you've run out of time. But I am a realist -- if you do that for just one
day, one day of saying the important things, of performing the kindnesses
that naturally occur to us when each day might be our last, then you will
have paid me for WebThing.

I don't ask this because there is some definition of good behavior, some
correct religious or philosophical viewpoint. I ask it precisely because
there isn't such a viewpoint. We are all free agents, we get to choose. In
fact, we must choose -- it's dangerous to let others choose for us. And no
one gets to tell anyone else how to behave -- unless, of course, one is
"selling" software using the CareWare system.

Paul Lutus, Ashland, Oregon