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Name: Ed Watkeys
Member since: 2000-07-18 14:10:35
Last Login: N/A

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Homepage: http://xmog.com/

Notes:

I'm not quite sure how I'd should go about justifying my existence, so I think I won't bother trying.

My beloved platforms are MacOS for day-to-day work and design stuff (because of its elegance and human-centered design) and FreeBSD for programming, serving, and other fun stuff (because of its attention to detail and good design).

Do you notice that I like well-designed software? Well, that's why I hate the pile of code called Linux. I guess I come down on the side of the Cathedral and not the Bazaar. I think small groups of smart, dedicated individuals can easily beat a million monkeys banging on keyboards.

As far as free software goes, I despise the GPL (and by extension RMS) for two reasons: One, the GPL is evil and two the GPL is bad.

The GPL is evil because it pretends to encourage freedom when it actually stifles programmers' freedom. Don't let a line of GPLed code slip into your program or else you lose the freedom to choose how your code should be distributed.

The GPL is bad because it strips programmers of the ability to make a living. RMS wants programmers to survive by writing documentation, providing support, or taking assignments from companies to modify or add features to existing code. What happens if you're a great coder but can't write save your life or have the sort of temperament that drives other people away? And what does the last option do but turn you into a slave?

The Berkeley approach is so much nicer. No revolutionary ideology. No viral licenses. It's pro-bono software: as professionals, developers should feel an obligation to contribute a certain amount of their time and energy to improve the human condition.

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This is my fourth day or so of being an advogato member, and I'm still wondering how one goes about becoming a member of the elite inner circle of people who are allowed to post.

Which got me to thinking. What's to keep this site from getting stagnant, inbred, inward-looking, narcissitic (or whatever adjective you'd prefer)?

The advogato mission statement states that this site was created "to serve as a nice, friendly gathering place for all the wonderful people in our community." Is the goal to have a small group of exhalted leaders with soapbox privileges and a large group of lurkers whose role is to bask in the glow of the former group's genius (and celebrity)?

I have sympathy for folks who try to create sites like this: the task of achieving the proper balance between openness and a tolerable signal-to-noise ratio is a daunting one. But the method used here to keep order seems more like something a drug dealer would use to ensure that he's not selling to a narc.

And besides, who is to say that one has to be a seasoned "open source" developer to contribute in a meaningful way? Such a belief is akin to the view that critics have no role in art because they're not artists. There is little correlation (and perhaps less causation) between talent and the ability to critically evaluate such talent.

Of course, this is the obvious argument of the outsider -- why would someone with credentials bother making such an argument? Unless, of course, such a person had the intellectual honesty and sympathy to address the issue. That my position is self-serving should not disqualify it.

 

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