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Re: [Fsfe-uk] The threat of a good example continued

From: Tristan Roddis
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] The threat of a good example continued
Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 11:56:36 +0100 (BST)

On Tue, 14 May 2002, Marc Eberhard wrote:

> > Stallman uses recipes sometimes, which are at least closer than
> > material objects, you don't expect a recipe book to cost 1000
> > pounds, or to charge based on the size of the dinner party you
> > are cooking for.
> That's a nice example indeed. Thanks for pointing it out! Is there some RMS
> / www.gnu.org link that features this in detail?

He mentions it here:

http://www.gnu.org/events/rms-nyu-2001-transcript.txt (see quoted chunk at
the end of this message)

Also, on the subject of nice analogies, Stallman has a nice rebuttal to
the current vogue of comparing the GPL to a virus:

"To compare something to a virus is very harsh," says Stallman. "A spider
plant is a more accurate comparison; it goes to another place if you
actively take a cutting."

(From Free as in Freedom:


P.S. You get a surprising first result when searching for RMS and spider
plant... :)

address@hidden                            http://www.roddis.org

>From transcript:

"Now, some of you may not ever write computer programs, but perhaps you
cook.  And if you cook, unless you're really great, you probably use
recipes.  And, if you use recipes, you've probably had the experience of
getting a copy of a recipe from a friend who's sharing it.  And you've
probably also had the experience -- unless you're a total neophyte -- of
changing a recipe.  You know, it says certain things, but you don't have
to do exactly that.  You can leave out some ingredients.  Add some
mushrooms, 'cause you like mushrooms.  Put in less salt because your
doctor said you should cut down on salt -- whatever.  You can even make
bigger changes according to your skill.  And if you've made changes in a
recipe, and you cook it for your friends, and they like it, one of your
friends might say, "Hey, could I have the recipe?"  And then, what do you
do?  You could write down your modified version of the recipe and make a
copy for your friend.  These are the natural things to do with
functionally useful recipes of any kind.

Now a recipe is a lot like a computer program.  A computer program's a lot
like a recipe: a series of steps to be carried out to get some result that
you want.  So it's just as natural to do those same things with computer
programs -- hand a copy to your friend.  Make changes in it because the
job it was written to do isn't exactly what you want.  It did a great job
for somebody else, but your job is a different job.  And after you've
changed it, that's likely to be useful for other people. Maybe they have a
job to do that's like the job you do.  So they ask, "Hey, can I have a
copy?"  Of course, if you're a nice person, you're going to give a copy.
That's the way to be a decent person.

So imagine what it would be like if recipes were packaged inside black
boxes.   You couldn't see what ingredients they're using, let alone change
them, and imagine if you made a copy for a friend, they would call you
a pirate and try to put you in prison for years.  That world would create
tremendous outrage from all the people who are used to sharing recipes.
But that is exactly what the world of proprietary software is like.  A
world in which common decency towards other people is prohibited or

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