Mark S. Miller
markm at caplet.com
Tue Apr 30 08:01:18 UTC 2002
>Lex Spoon <lex at cc.gatech.edu> said:
>> you worry that businessmen will equate "open source"
>>and "OSI", but that hasn't even happened (yet?) among us technical
Hi all, I'm Mark Miller, and I run an open source project over at
Lex, my perception is that this has indeed happened among both technical and
I would also argue that this is a good thing, but that's a separate matter.
Briefly, the term "open source" is a line in the sand. If the term weren't
made institutionally stable somehow, then interests on one side of the
slippery slope would rapidly dilute all meaning out of it. I was at a weird
closed (!?!) meeting where Bill Joy was trying to sell various leaders of
the open source community on the acceptability of the ancestor of SCSL. If
OSD hadn't pinned down a set of clear criteria, Bill Joy would have simply
trumpeted this license as "open source" and the word would have lost all
meaning. We have seen this over and over again with words that were coined
to make a needed distinction, like "nanotechnology".
Note that this logic places much higher value on drawing a clear line and
sticking with it than it does on getting the line right. Just like we draw
a line on "adult" at 18. It's clearly arbitrary, but an arbitrary simple
stable line is better than the mess that would result from trying to be more
accurate. This is the thresholding of the world into categories that rules
can apply to, just as an A-to-D converter thresholds the world into
categories that digital logic can apply to. In both cases, the important
thing is to remove ambiguity by making arbitrary choices. These choices
don't remove actual ambiguity from our understanding of the world, but they
enable disparate parts of a system to coordinate with each other in reacting
to that world; since they can react to a shared abstraction of the world.
Those who care about open-source need a shared distinction more than they
need a good distinction. That said, I think the OSD has done a great job at
creating a decent distinction.
In any case, I've read section 6 of SqueakL and don't understand the problem
with it. I tried looking at the squeak archive, but it's no better indexed
than mine ;), so I wasn't able to find an explanation of the problem. If
this has already been hashed out, then please respond to me privately rather
than on the list.
At 11:05 PM 4/29/2002 Monday, Cees de Groot wrote:
>You seem to be thinking that "free software" as a term existed before the FSF
>used it, and similarly that "open source" as a term existed before (who?)
It was coined by Christine Peterson, the head of the Foresight Institute,
cc'ed on this email.
>[...] there are many organizations out there who would like to ride the
>open source wave but would also like to avoid paying their dues to the
>community, and when we ('we' as a bunch of guys who are clearly on the
>right side of things) start diluting the term ourselves, we cannot blame
>all sort of sleazy types to do the same.
Indeed! Further, we do their job for them.
Text by me above is hereby placed in the public domain
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