13.0022 gadfly on gadfly

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 18 May 1999 21:35:28 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 22.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 21:31:35 +0100
From: "David L. Gants" <dgants@english.uga.edu>
Subject: Re: TEI, gadflies, commentators

>> From: Stephen Ramsay <sjr3a@etext.lib.virginia.edu>


> Standards and open source development are two different things.

Yes, but two deeply related things, insofar as one often implies the
other. Standardization nearly always implies that a developer (say, a
company) relinquish its desire to tie a technology to its potential for
making money--which is to say, its exclusive ability to manipulate the
source. A standardized technology that can't be viewed "at the source" is
an absurdity; one follows the other.

> Intellectual property is hardly fading away, in any field. Publishers,
> software developers, and the entertainment industry are all working
> hard to enforce and extend intellectual property rights. Intellectual
> property is most commonly considered in terms of monetary reward, but
> this is not the only way to think of intellectual property.

It is certainly true that other fields aren't following suit, but recent
events in the computer industry are nothing short of staggering. It
almost sounds facetious to say that intellectual property is "most
commonly considered" in terms of monetary award. Intellectual property
law (in the US at least) is entirely based on the ability to make money.
The open sourcing of Netscape, OS X Server (!), and the culture of
GNU/Linux are, from every conceivable standpoint, uncanny when considered
in the context of a capitalist economy.

John Stuart Mill would have had Richard Stallsman thrown in prison. :)


Stephen Ramsay
Assistant Director
Electronic Text Center email: sjr3a@virginia.edu
Alderman Library phone: (804) 924-3230
University of Virginia FAX: (804) 924-1431
web: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu

Difficile est saturam non scribere. -- Juvenal

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