?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Is Open Source Rational?

rational (adj.):
1. having its source in or being guided by the intellect (distinguished from experience or emotion)
2. consistent with or based on or using reason
3. of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind
4. tending to maximize expected utility given beliefs

altruistic (adj.): showing unselfish concern for the welfare of others

Is open source rational? Is it altruistic?

Please discuss. (If you are using the last definition: with respect to what utility function is it rational or irrational?)

--
Banazir

Comments

( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
zengeneral
Aug. 25th, 2005 09:04 pm (UTC)
...

anything could be rational, you just need to add its basic ideas to the axiom system..

If you value software written by little kids around the country, then ok, open source is rational.

If you value software written by elitist nerdy smucks that don't have a job, then ok, open source is rational.

If you value supporting a family, then no, open source is not rational.

If you value material gain, then no, open source is not rational.

If you value your ideas being stolen, then open source is rational
banazir
Aug. 25th, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC)
In Defense of Sanity
That's why I put "with respect to what utility function", but no, not everything is rational.

I could say I believe in GRA Doppelgangers who impersonate my graduate students in e-mail, IM, and in-person meetings and, with the aid of Code Homonculi, produce the code for my projects. This would not be objectively rational, as you could demonstrate empirically and logically that my beliefs are wrong.

If you value software written by little kids around the country, then ok, open source is rational.
Immature programmers, sometimes (not always - sometimes, quite the opposite, though I agree that the "elitist nerds" cover a large percentage of the other end of the spectrum). Show my an open source project that was really written by little kids and I'll treat you to lunch some time.

If you value software written by elitist nerdy smucks that don't have a job, then ok, open source is rational.
Touche, but there are also lots of elitist nerdy shmucks who do have a job, and do it for the love of the discipline. There, you have to ask what the utility is. Social good? (Really social good?) "Altruism"? Actually, you could argue whether there is such a thing as pure altruism; I would, but to be more down-to-earth: is there such a thing as pure greed?

If you value supporting a family, then no, open source is not rational.
Clarification: if supporting a family by means of open source development is your only value, then probably not. (Not unless you are already established as the CEO or salaried lead developer of an open source company - a rarity, but not nonexistent.)

If you value material gain, then no, open source is not rational.
Ditto above.

If you value your ideas being stolen, then open source is rational.
See my comment about sanity above.

--
Banazir
zengeneral
Aug. 25th, 2005 09:41 pm (UTC)
Re: In Defense of Sanity
Immature programmers
All programers need to be immature, in the playful sense...

Show my an open source project that was really written by little kids and I'll treat you to lunch some time.
linux, lets say, Famous Daves? ribs need I.

ok, need more? I wrote open source code when I was 14; I was a young fool with wild ideals like civil equality with linux installed on my computer. so, where is my lunch?

if supporting a family by means of open source development is your only valu
its a disjunction, I imagine that supporting a family should be the #1 priority of anyone with children.

Touche, but there are also lots of elitist nerdy shmucks who do have a job
Aye, and they work at Microsoft. Its Microsoft vs. Everyone.
In 1-3 years, its going to be
Microsoft vs. Google vs. Everyone.



to wit, open source is like environmentalism in the manner that they are control by anti-corporate ideals. As a member of the dark side, I have to an absolute opinion and view as it makes life fun to debate, and so, aside all benefits or gains of open source and environmentalism. they both must be destroyed on the grounds that they are infected… it’s a mercy killing.

btw, recycling is for losers, :)
discoflamingo
Aug. 25th, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC)
Re: In Defense of Sanity
Congratulations! You win today's "Best reason to invent a sarcasm tag in HTML" award!
zengeneral
Aug. 25th, 2005 10:31 pm (UTC)
sarcasm ?
where? I wasn't being sarcastic at all.

was it the recycling bit??

Recycling is hippy idea that was brought upon by a false EPA report about landfills filling up to fast. We have the room in a very small region of Kansas to hold the trash of the United States for 1000 years, but, luckily, it is broken up over multiple states and so we can live without dealing with our garbage for at least 2000-10000 years depending on population growth.

Aluminum is the only material that is worthwhile to recycle, as it actually has a return on value.
Re: sarcasm ? - discoflamingo - Aug. 25th, 2005 10:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
The Sith and Environmentalism - banazir - Aug. 26th, 2005 01:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Jedi are Neutral Good, Sith are Neutral Evil - (Anonymous) - Aug. 26th, 2005 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
What do you take me for? - banazir - Aug. 26th, 2005 02:57 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: The Sith and Environmentalism - discoflamingo - Aug. 26th, 2005 02:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: The Sith and Environmentalism - gondhir - Aug. 27th, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Leave it and pass it on down: 10000 years - banazir - Aug. 26th, 2005 01:16 am (UTC) - Expand
I Can't Believe It's Not Sarcasm - banazir - Aug. 25th, 2005 10:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I Can't Believe It's Not Sarcasm - discoflamingo - Aug. 25th, 2005 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I Can't Believe It's Not Sarcasm - gondhir - Aug. 28th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
banazir
Aug. 25th, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
Okay, you get your lunch, but...
All programers need to be immature, in the playful sense...

linux, lets say, Famous Daves? ribs need I.
ok, need more? I wrote open source code when I was 14; I was a young fool with wild ideals like civil equality with linux installed on my computer. so, where is my lunch?

Sure, you get lunch, and Famous Dave's is fine; but

  • 1. Did you actually open-source your software, as opposed to making it closed shareware as Raymond Lau (who was 15 at the time) did? The games I wrote between the ages of 13 and 15, and the utilities I wrote aged 15-17, were really open source - I just didn't have a great distribution channel for them (I used WWIVnet and FIDOnet, and Educorp and Budgetbytes, as I didn't have access to an FTP server until I was 16).

  • 2. I assume someone else actually used your software, but who? Was it as a finished app, or did someone actually take and modify, port, or incorporate your code? Since I didn't stipulate that it had to be used or co-developed with or modded (things that are IMO typical of open source), these are not required; I'm just curious.

  • 3. I certainly wasn't a "little kid" at 14. I was a senior, taking Calc BC, and programming some serious WWIV BBS mods. I rather doubt (more so that in my own case!) that you were a kid in the sense of being an inexperienced or underqualified programmer, either.


Seriously, I'm curious - cite me an example of kids developing open source. That's not a bad thing! I'll claim that the bar on publishing software, though very low, is high enough that any children who get software out there for people to use must be very good, and worth publishing as commercial developers. Conversely, any youngling who's too green or not serious enough to sell code probably couldn't give it away, either.

If your premise is that anyone with a net connection can peddle crap, you're right! Witness banazir's Infinite Deluge of Spam which has nearly crippled me lo these past 2 years, and is finally receding thanks to CNS. If your premise is that people will take crap for free that they wouldn't buy (or illegally copy), where is your evidence?

I wouldn't bother to read a single line, or run any distro, of Linux that I would be unwilling to pay for pre-loaded on my computer. It's taking up drive space and proc! It took me time to D/L and burn. These things all have value.

its a disjunction, I imagine that supporting a family should be the #1 priority of anyone with children.
My point was that open source can easily be proven rational as a hobby of someone who has a family, supports children, and codes for a living. And of course, there are plenty of frivolous or entirely useless things that people do just for the fun of it. What someone gets as a personal reward from developing and distributing open source, or seeing it in use, or just playing with it because they wrote something fun, could be the same thing that you get from World of Warcraft - or from your own utils, for that matter. I know for a fact that you "scratch itches" the way discoflamingo says.

There are individual cases where you can build a career by coding only open source software, but I'm not claiming that a completely open source software economy is viable.

Aye, and they work at Microsoft. Its Microsoft vs. Everyone.
In 1-3 years, its going to be
Microsoft vs. Google vs. Everyone.

Bite your tongue! Hiss!
May Google never go the dark road of Microsoft Way.
(Seriously, I have more to say about that, but it will have to wait.)

It's sad that you've lost your belief in civil equality, if you have.

Environmentalism: I agree there is some quackery, but you and I have very different ideas, both scientific and in terms of social utility, on where the line is drawn.

--
Banazir
1/2 - zengeneral - Aug. 26th, 2005 01:27 am (UTC) - Expand
2/2 - zengeneral - Aug. 26th, 2005 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Aug. 25th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
That doesn't change the rationality of the choice
Your examples are good, but they are not examples of why Open Source is rational or not, they are examples of if Open Source is an optimal outcome in the perspective of the individual. One doesn't need to prove that something is a most optimal choice for every individual to prove that a choice is rational, one only needs to prove that something is an optimal choice for a single individual. (Or, in the context of the question, the goal is to determine if a large group of people are just fooling themselves and making a wrong choice... which is always a possibility.)

I would also highly contest your loaded statements that "if you value supporting a family" or "value material gain" then open source is not rational. That's ridiculous.

Services are the most consistent avenue for wealth generation, especially in markets that are completely commoditized. Lots of people make good money creating, maintaining, customizing, and administering open source "products". It's simply a difference in business model. Services instead of products in a box.

Anyway, Open Source is definitely rational by every definition of the term.

-- Travis Bradshaw
zengeneral
Aug. 25th, 2005 10:28 pm (UTC)
Re: That doesn't change the rationality of the choice
but they are not examples of why Open Source is rational or not
not overall, hence the "ifs"

Services are the most consistent avenue for wealth generation
And why make it easier for services to offer the same thing. Consider linux web hosting, nearly every linux web host is identical: PHP, MySQL, etc. Now, consider Microsoft web hosting. Only they have the uber special things: Share Point, .NET platform, insert Microsoft XYZ stuff as well as the open source services such as PHP and MySQL. Now, like most of my arguments, the point is hidden, so I explain.

The best services are the ones that host to a larger audience and provide more functionality. So, if you wish to offer more services, then you host everything that is free, everything the customer is willing to pay for, and create your own services that no one else has.

For instance, phpMyAdmin, a very simple tool. If it was kept closed source and used exclusively by one wehhost, then that web host would have a huge advantage over every other web host. Now, those at a disadvantage would have to try to mimic or recreate the software, and in doing so, may create something better than phpMyAdmin. This way, open source makes everyone the same homogenous goo-back.

If you can do X very well, and your competition can't do X very well: why give them the ability to do X very well for free?
de_profundiis
Aug. 26th, 2005 01:12 pm (UTC)
could you be a little less lame please?
the world would give thanks to that!

thank you

PS: I'm sorry banazir but due to this sort of narrow minded comments I will go no further into the discussion.
zengeneral
Aug. 26th, 2005 02:45 pm (UTC)
actually
Sometimes, it amazes me how entrenched individuals get with the lofty ideals of open source. Well, it doesn't, open source is to software as "Who wants to be a Hilton" is to TV; there are people that no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop them from being idiots. :)
banazir
Aug. 28th, 2005 12:46 am (UTC)
Zengeneral's function
LOL, you do know that Zen's function is to offend everyone, right?

--
Banazir
tmehlinger
Sep. 1st, 2005 07:18 pm (UTC)
Can you justify that OSS is written exclusively by little kids? Nope.

Can you also justify that no OSS developers are actually paid for their work? Nope.

Can you justify that OSS developers have no way to support their families? Nope.

Can you justify that material gain is necessary, or moreover, desired, from the development of OSS? Nope.

Can you justify that ideas are stolen exclusively from OSS, thereby claiming that ideas are not stolen from proprietary software? Nope.

Open source will prevail, because everyone wins. In the open source world, everyone can use their software as they please. In the proprietary world, only the proprietor wins. In the proprietor's world, everyone can use their software only as the proprietor pleases. It cannot and will not last.
discoflamingo
Aug. 25th, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC)
Altruism
Open source software is not necessarily altruistic, since it involves giving something of value (source code/software/knowledge) to others at cost to one's self (time) that you would probably have written anyway. Any of Eric Raymond's projects fall under this "scratching an itch" category of open source software.

Games like Homeworld, Quake, and Doom are open sourced for the prestige it gains the company (usually with the modding community), to cement the game's place in history, and because they will likely never be profitable again.

The "free software" crowd are the genuine altruists, as evidenced by the rabid army of followers attracted by pre-emininent hacker/idealogue/filthy hippy Richard M. Stallman. Of course, they draw a distinct line between open source and free software, since one is altruistic by design, and the other is (usually) altruistic by coincidence.

I deny rational choice theory, because many of my software preferences are flagrantly non-transitive.
hfx_ben
Aug. 26th, 2005 06:29 am (UTC)
synchronicity
Earlier today read this item by Jon Udell.

(And I still haven't found a way out of the OS startup paradox.)
gondhir
Aug. 27th, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC)
You could make the argument that altruism is not rational, but that does not necessarily mean that altruism is a bad thing or that only irrational people are altruistic. Of course, altruism is not necessarily irrational.

In the case of open source, most of the people doing the work aren't doing it to make money, they're doing it for the fun of it and because they want to make some software for themselves that they want to use for themselves. Once they've done that, it costs nothing (or practically nothing) to distribute it to everyone on the internet.

Granted, it's not a very good way to make money, but if working on an open source project is something that gives you enjoyment, then it doesn't have to be rational.

Or were you asking if it was rational to USE open source since the quality of the programmers is unknown? I've seen commercial programs that IMO wouldn't qualify as a beta release. And I've open source programs that do everything you could want them to.
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

December 2008
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

KSU Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (GEC) Lab

Teunciness

Breakfast

Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Communities

Fresh Pages

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Naoto Kishi