[Haskell-cafe] Re: Why Not Haskell?

Immanuel Litzroth immanuell at enfocus.be
Wed Aug 9 06:27:41 EDT 2006

"Reilly Hayes" <rfh at reillyhayes.com> writes:

> On Aug 8, 2006, at 1:42 AM, Immanuel Litzroth wrote:
>     "Reilly Hayes" <rfh at reillyhayes.com> writes:
>     I don't understand your argument. How exactly does the GPL get in the
>     way of selling software as an instantiation of business expertise?
>     Are you saying that you have the business expertise but customers
>     still prefer not to buy your software? Doesn't that just mean that
>     your expertise isn't worth much (economic evaluation :-). Or that your
>     idea that they were buying expertise was not correct, they were just
>     buying the software after all, and now they have an alternative?
> I failed to communicate my case clearly.  The software *is* what is being
> sold.  The *reason* it is valuable is the business expertise required to build
> it.  There are markets with very small populations of people who both
> understand the business thoroughly and can implement solutions.  It makes
> software valuable and makes licensing the most effective way to monetize that
> value.
I am not arguing that licensing would not be a very effective way to
monetize value. 

>     Yes I know the business model. Sell them some overpriced software
>     charge them through the nose for support, features, training,
>     installation, updates ....
>     Your resentment against the GPL stems from the fact that it makes
>     squeezing the last buck out of your clients somewhat harder (in some
>     markets). It probably annoys you that you are not dealing with a
>     competitor who is making shitloads of money, making some price fixing
>     or secret agreements not feasable. Your problem is that just as your
>     business practice is not illegal, neither is the GPL.
> This paragraph is way out of line.  You have taken a discussion of the merits
> of using GPL software and turned it into a personal attack.  Attack the
> argument, not the arguer.  It would be both polite and reasonable to tone down
> the hostility if you actually want a discussion.

Yeah, it might have been harsh and I apologize. But I just describe
what I have seen in some of the companies I worked for.  

> I don't have a problem with the GPL.  In my professional life,  I am careful to
> avoid GPL software in those cases where the GPL would interfere with the firm's
> commercial interests.  I certainly don't resent the GPL or those who choose to
> release software under the GPL.  In fact, I can imagine wanting to release some
> kinds of software under the GPL.
> The point I was making was that the GPL *does* get in the way of *some* optimal
> mechanisms of making money.  Which is *fine*.  That is one of the *intents* of
> the GPL.  The argument that I am trying to counter is the one that says open
> source is *always* better for everybody. 

I don't think the *intent* of the GPL is to get in the way of some
optimal ways of making money. Can you tell me which part of the GPL
makes you think? It might have that side-effect though.

> Sometimes, the best thing for the
> owner of the intellectual property is to keep it closed.  There *are* markets
> where monetization of IP is a zero sum game, or worse (if the IP is public,
> nobody makes any money).

I wonder who you see as the participants in this game? A worse than
zero sum game might be interesting if you are one of the people who
score positive and some of the other people have to pay for it. 
Gambling is a fine example.

>         I'm not making (or getting involved in) the moral argument about free
>         or open
>         software.  I will point out that the current good health of Haskell
>         owes a
>         great deal to Microsoft through the computer scientists they employ. 
>         I'm sure
>         Haskell has benefitted from the largesse of other companies as well.
>     That is definitely wrong. Haskell would be in even greater shape if
>     some people who shall remain unnamed had not gone over to Microsoft. I
>     foresee an interesting discussion here.
> I don't see how you can say Haskell would be better OR worse off if people
> hadn't gone to work for Microsoft.  It's an entirely hypothetical case and it's
> just not knowable.  My point is much simpler.  Haskell & GHC do benefit from
> the efforts of people being paid by Microsoft.  Microsoft is planning to hire a
> full-time contractor to work on GHC.

It seems irony gets lost so easily in these conversations. You have no
way of knowing what the state of haskell would have been had certain
key contributors to GHC and Haskell not taken jobs at Microsoft. 
Therefore you statement is meaningless and only good for producing
approving nods among people who already agree with what you say. 

> The snarky comment about "people who shall remain unnamed" is rude.
I did not mean to be rude, and would like to apologize if anyone felt 
personally attacked by this. 

I can, I can't.
Tubbs Tattsyrup

Immanuel Litzroth
Software Development Engineer
Enfocus Software
Antwerpsesteenweg 41-45
9000 Gent
Voice: +32 9 269 23 90
Fax : +32 9 269 16 91
Email: Immanuell at enfocus.be
web : www.enfocus.be

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