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« Happy 5th Birthday, Second Life! | Main | Cutting Through Obfuscation about Obfuscation »

June 24, 2008


Paco Taylor

"Now here comes Lordfly, to tell us late at night on that he has left the Clever Zebra, and apologizes to everybody for making them work for free and give content for free, given that, well...they didn't get anything out of it, really."

Did you donate anything to Clever Zebra?
edit: post removed because insomnia makes me ramble at 5:45 am.

Prokofy Neva

Well, read down the thread a bit more, and he restores some of it, but now that I've read the samizdat version -- wow,


Seems as i suggested to mr. digit when i first "questioned" the clever ones plans..., that he now has gained some actual design business experience;)

Clever Fishes, or Razor zebras are just par for every new media hype bubble. Maybe mr. doo will have a career in virtual worlds and client oriented design and services to come.

Design is a small business, all you really have is your reputation. CleverZ now seems to have earned the reputation it's birth methods deserved.

As i stated months ago. not so clever.;)


Prokofy Neva

Well, they persist, so they may morph there way through every wave and make sure they get paid, even if no one else does.

Dirk Talamasca

The free model never went very far on the web either. SOME stuff was free and it was then made overly tempting to go ahead and take the plunge for the not-so-free stuff... along with signing over your demographic information as explicitly as possible.

Remember It was this website that wanted you to send in CD's that you no longer wanted which in turn garnered you web bux that you could spend to buy an album that you DID want. These guys were actually getting people to send them tangible, resalable items in the mail and they still crashed and burned. (they were even raking in bucks on shipping and handling).

This sort of thing happens when you don't anticipate receiving 10,000 Shaun Cassidy albums.

Rebecca proudhon

I have a feeling that "Bolshevism," is very soon going to become the last thing to worry about with SL.

Gigs Taggart

The secret to open source is that it's pretty much all paid development.

Very few projects survive on volunteer work alone. Even projects with no centralized company are still funded by various interested corporations.

It's really a strawman when you attack "volunteer-based open source" since such a thing is mostly a myth.

The clever zebra idea was "if you build it, they will come". Start an open source corpus of goods and skills, and then attract the interested corporations that would fund it. This is a much tougher prospect, but it has worked in the past.

John Lopez

A quick survey of open source projects shows how true that is.

* MySQL was created and financed by MySQL AB; the dual license was a (successful) attempt to build a user base out of open source customers to increase the value proposition overall for commercial clients.

* Firefox got a major kick in the pants thanks to Google : and was launched by AOL/Netscape.

* Linux is harder to peg down, but most of the major committers are backed by corporate dollars.

Many of the other successful open source projects were started to perform some internal work, and then released in the open because they were not part of the core business value. The bugtracker we use ( is an example of a project that was developed for internal use but was opened to help test and debug it in ways internal use wouldn't achieve.

Prokofy Neva

Gigs, I've made it clear how the formula works in this and previous blogs on the subject: somebody always DOES pay. Whether it's Mom, the Government, or My Big IT Firm, somebody IS paying.

The volunteers are either hobbyists already paid, or newbies who just want to get noticed -- it's not really volunteerism is any real altruistic sense as the volunteers generally always hope to get something out of it -- and are paid *somehow*.

And you fail to see the actual cynicism surrounding all the examples here, and admit you are part of it, as victim or as willingly exploited in the hopes of gaining something higher: some big company is always encouraging open-source so it can exploit it.

That's what IBM is now doing around LL. That's what Microsoft does.

They are taking essentially free labour and exploiting it.

You are making it seem like well-meaning enthusiasts in an ideal utopia work on software because they are brilliant and its the right thing to do for the cause of Science and Knowledge, but then somebody is always taking that and selling it, and the volunteers are always not getting paid.

The idea that a company jettisons something "not part of their core business" because they just don't care if somebody wants to tinker on it doesn't sanctify it either, it's like me throwing out junk I don't want to bother to pay to have fix and some junkman fixing it and reselling it.

Prokofy Neva

BTW, you're also simply misrepresenting Firefox.

Firefox is an idealistic project started by of all people, the same idealist as on the SL board, Mitch Kapor, and funded *from a foundation* which no doubt includes his own money, and other people's money he got from his connections in Silicon Valley. It is fueled by a massive fan base of devs working for free and feeling like they are fighting the Man, which is Internet Explorer -- that sort of rebel culture is always fanned to give people that sense of "cause" to get them to work.

It's like the whole Linux cult.

"Some 1,000 to 2,000 people have contributed code to Firefox, according to the Mozilla Foundation, which distributes the Firefox browser. An estimated 10,000 people act as testers for the program, and an estimated 80,000 help spread the word."

Most of what fuels these people, if not resume-building, is "rebels needing a cause," and hatred of Microsoft and the belief that they are more brilliant and free and less corporate. It's a cultural phenomenon even more than a technical phenomenon.

Firefox has annoying tabs and doesn't open PDF files -- I always have to switch to IE to get PDF files to open. It has constant messages about security that you have to click through or fuss with in ways that IE never has. The only advantage over IE is that if you crash -- or if the browser itself crashes, which it does way more than IE, then you have that "restore session" option which is handy. Other than that, the two are really identical, as the average person cares absolutely noting about all the silly widgets and extensions and bullshit that devs get all involved in.

If AOL helped launched it, so what? AOL doesn't pay for all ofthat. It goes on being a non-profit foundation paid for by grants and free labour.

If Google helped it by putting in ad royalties in exchange for extracting an agreement to further dumb down the world's mind by forcing to Google as the start page, so what? That's not progress .

And yes, that's being an extension of Google, and yes, this is merely about giant warring entities who are caught in the maelstrom, not about some authentic people's movement succeeding with its utopian agenda blah blah blah. It's been bought out, end of story.

I'm not at all impressed by Kapor's notion that he will put money into "community causes," either, because those tend to be skewed to a certain leftwing agenda too, and aren't always demonstrably about "A Better World" in any conventional sense.

John Lopez

I'm not quite following where the problem is with Firefox (other than user interface preference, which I completely understand, switching between the two depending on my use as well).

I'm puzzled by the energy expended towards Kapor, as an end user, I could care less about him or his involvement in anything. I doubt 0.1% of Firefox users know who he is.

Second, I wonder what *would* count as progress, if being self funded via advertising isn't. Progress on what front? Is it a front they (the foundation) care about? Is it a front I (as an end user) should care about?

I just enjoy Firefox with a handful of extensions that make browsing more enjoyable, when the site doesn't demand IE for one reason or another.

Prokofy Neva

Um, if you see Mitch Kapor as an "end user," you're hopeless. He raises money for the foundation, and gives money for the foundation, that enables Mozilla to have the mindshare and following it does. If you can't grasp that, it's hopeless.

If you can't accept simple reports of simple bugs and problems in using Firefox, you're no different than Lindens who refuse to believe a single thing told them about SL as it plays on every normal person's computer except theirs.

Firefox isn't self-funded via advertising. The Mozilla Foundation goes on paying for it. Advertising helps. That may reimburse the funders to some extent. It is not an entirely self-financed operation -- nor how could it EVER be construed by that when 80,000 people *work for free* on it.

The pyramids were, uh, self-financing based on exploited and slave labour, too, but they didn't remain as a form of human culture and economy forever.

I personally see the entire open-source thing as a cult that will appear in history books as something as quaint as the Holy Rollers at the tent revival meetings of the last century.

Religious fervour is a wonderful thing, and can create cultural impulses for centuries to come; religious groups had a powerful influence in creating universities in America that went on educating people long after the religious element was traded in favour of the secularism that in fact these more tolerant religions tolerated. Open source will lose its religious zeal and fanaticism in time, too.

John Lopez

Please: "I'm puzzled by the energy expended towards Kapor, as an end user, I could care less about him or his involvement in anything." clearly doesn't parse that way. Try: "As an end user, I could care less about Kapor or his involvement in anything, so your comments puzzle me".

Nor did I reject your comments about bugginess, I mention that I switch to IE for some sites where Firefox doesn't play nice. That is less and less over time, but it still happens. (On the other hand, IE doesn't play well with all sites *either*.)

Nor do I care where the money comes from; a lionshare does come from advertising revenue (you can look at the linked article to see just how much does). But again, why does an end user care about any of this.

See, I'm a *user* of open source more than anything. I don't care if it is made by elves, or by corporate drones. Your comments on religious fervor don't apply, neither to me or frankly the vast majority of Firefox users (which is no longer a "geek only" toy).

So, what's the point? Lots and lots of typing that leads to no conclusion about the original question. I will try again:

"Progress on what front? Is it a front they (the foundation) care about? Is it a front I (as an end user) should care about?"

Gigs Taggart

"somebody always DOES pay. ... it's not really volunteerism is any real altruistic sense as the volunteers generally always hope to get something out of it -- and are paid *somehow*."

Isn't that what I said?

"They are taking essentially free labour and exploiting it."

Non sequitor. We just agreed the labor wasn't free.

"You are making it seem like well-meaning enthusiasts in an ideal utopia work on software because they are brilliant"

That's pretty much the opposite of what I said.

Everyone gets paid. There's very little altruism in open source.

Even the ones not getting paid in money might fix bugs because they use the software themselves and just want or need the bug fixed.

You just are having a hard time accepting that nothing about open source requires socialism.

Open source can easily exist in an entirely quid-pro-quo system, with no altruism or collectivism required.

John Lopez

Gigs, you have the nail on the head. There is nothing inherent in the distribution of source instead of bits that requires hippies or communists to be involved.

There is no denying that *historically* some of the movers and shakers *were* such characters, but today the movers and shakers are major corporations doing what they do to increase profits.

While the old guard hangs around, and are sometimes as loud as Prokofy on issues they care about, the people who matter have moved on to calculated business reasons for using open source.

Wall street is the *least* altruistic group around. Yet even they are heavily using open source (while being careful about licensing issues): "market watcher Tabb Group estimates that Linux adoption among the 14 biggest investment firms this year will reach more than 72% of the installed operating server base vs. 60% in 2006":

Between large companies using open source and end users who have no freaking clue about the source code they *could* access if they cared to (but don't), open source is just a different way to distributing bits, not an ideology anymore.

That isn't to say there aren't those who haven't gotten the memo yet and continue to march to idealistic drums. They don't *matter* anymore though, the game has gotten beyond their control.

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