[sociate] Why does sharing IP sound so strange?

  • From: "Jerry Michalski" <jerry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Sociate News" <sociate@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 4 Jan 2004 16:07:44 -0500

Howard describes a great conversation he had with his daughter, which ran
roughly like this:

  "I was kidding with my daughter today, and made up a silly joke. She
immediately went and told the joke to my wife.

  I said to this very precocious almost-6-year-old, 'Hey, you're stealing my

  She said, wisely, 'Daddy, isn't it more important that people hear the
joke and laugh than who said it?'

  We then got into the philophy discussion, such as one can with a child,
about people who make stuff and only want money versus people who create
things and want to share them with the world. She's still on the side of
getting material heard."

When you read why some of the free and open-source software pioneers did
what they did, it doesn't sound like communism or anarchy, it sounds like
someone's completely natural impulse to collaborate kicking in. Take, for
example, Richard Stallman's description of what motivated him to start the
Gnu Project:

  The modern computers of the era, such as the VAX or the 68020, had their
own operating systems, but none of them were free software: you had to sign
a nondisclosure agreement even to get an executable copy.

  This meant that the first step in using a computer was to promise not to
help your neighbor. A cooperating community was forbidden. The rule made by
the owners of proprietary software was, ``If you share with your neighbor,
you are a pirate. If you want any changes, beg us to make them.''

Stallman then proceeds to make explicit some of the implicit assumptions of
the traditional software world, much like John Taylor Gatto makes explicit
the hidden assumptions of compulsory schooling.

Or skim Linus Torvalds' book Just for Fun.

So... what's so threatening about people choosing to collaborate, or to
educate themselves?

posted by Jerry Michalski at 3:25 PM

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  • » [sociate] Why does sharing IP sound so strange?