"Free Software" fables

Ideas, discussions about all topics - no matter how brilliant or stupid they are. Place for hobby-psychatrists, hobby-architects, hobby-scientists, hobby-whatever...
Post Reply
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 1469
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:39 pm

"Free Software" fables

Post by ^rooker »

Whenever it comes to explaining why proprietary stuff is bad and open- or GPL-stuff is good, it's always hard to make people see what's going wrong. The answers you mostly get are:
"I'm no computer expert, I'm just using it. Why should I care?"
- or -
"It works for me... And the only one having problems opening my files is YOU!"
- or -
"This is not our core business. We don't have time dealing with these things. I want to plug&play and carry on with my work!"

It's often necessary to tell some kind of "fable" or invent methaphors in order to translate computer-specific gibberish into a "human-readable-form".

Maybe some of you out there can benefit from them (or read them to your kids at bedtime), so I'll post them here.

The no-cooking / only-instant-food world
Unfortunately, the following fiction is in german - and maybe I'll translate it someday.

Nicht jeder kann kochen. Und auch nicht jeder will sein Essen überhaupt selbst kochen, aber:
Stell Dir mal vor Du könntest im Geschäft NUR noch Fertig-Essen kaufen. Wie soll das gehen? Man kann ja immer noch sein eigenes Gemüse anbauen...
Aber was, wenn Du NUR noch Mikrowellen kaufen kannst - keinen Ofen mehr?

Die Leute meinen: "Ich bin kein Koch und ich will einfach nur etwas Essen. Schnell und einfach muss alles gehen!"

Der Bedarf an frischem Gemüse, einzelnen Zutaten wird zurück gehen, weil es niemand mehr kauft. Bis es irgendwann unmöglich wird, nicht-fertig-Essen überhaupt zu bekommen oder es zuzubereiten.

Voila. Nun bist Du abhängig von den Fertig-Essen-Herstellern. Natürlich kann nun jeder kochen - ist ja so gemacht, dass es JEDER kann. Schmeckt dann halt mehr oder weniger alles gleich.
Und was es nicht im Päckchen gibt, gibt es nicht!

Dazu kommt noch:
Die Zutaten und Rezepte für diese Packerlsuppen sind natürlich geheim. Gehören ja einer Firma. Man könnte sie nicht nachkochen - oder würde sich strafbar machen beim Versuch das zu tun. Sogar beim Versuch eigene Packerl-Kreationen herzustellen wird man von Patentklagen überschwemmt bis man erstickt.

Die Hersteller von Packerlessen können nun mit den Leuten machen was sie wollen: Wenn Dein Lieblingsgericht sich nicht mehr rentiert wird es einfach aus dem Sortiment gestrichen.

Ein paar engagierte Old-school-Köche versuchen diesem Wahnsinn ein Ende zu bereiten, aber nur wenige kommen in ihre Restaurants: Warum?
Werbung ist zu teuer, somit wissen nur wenige von ihrer Existenz - und es ist den Leuten anscheinend auch zu anstrengend ausser Haus zu gehen... Außerdem schmeckt das Essen dort nicht so wie man es von den Packerln daheim gewohnt ist.

Gott sei Dank würde dieser Irrsinn beim Essen schnell auffallen - aber bei Computern und Software ist es leider JETZT schon so.
Jumping out of an airplane is not a basic instinct. Neither is breathing underwater. But put the two together and you're traveling through space!
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 1469
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:39 pm

The fiddle and the kids piano

Post by ^rooker »

Two kids "Hans" and "Gretel" wanted to learn a musical instrument.
Hans was given an electronic kids piano, and gretel got a fiddle.

Both were eager to learn their instruments and started playing. Hans was able to impress with his electronic toy pretty fast, mostly due to the pre-programmed melodies that came with it, while Gretel only produced ear-torturing squeaks!

Gretel was in desperate need of a teacher, or at least some information about how to handle her new "friend" properly - while Hans found he didn't need a teacher: his kids-piano was playing tunes automatically!

Time passed by and Hans still wasn't really capable of playing more than the pre-programmed tunes that came with his instrument.
Gretel meanwhile has managed to learn how to play impressive melodies with her fiddle.

And because it's more fun playing together, Hans and Gretel joined their instruments together. Unfortunately, Gretel was somehow forced to follow Hans' melodies, because he couldn't just "jam" with his kids-piano.

One day, the manufacturers of electronic kids pianos had an idea:
"What if we promote home-music heavily, but only our electronic kids pianos?"

So they did. And due to clever marketing and advertisement they became leader in the home-music sector. It was soooo easy for everyone now to play an instrument: Just press a button!

Kids in school weren't even offered anymore to play a different instrument than electronic kids pianos, those toys became THE standard.
Since TV and magazines only told about those electrical pianos, kids, parents and teachers didn't even know anymore that other instruments existed, too!

The rest of the industry adapted quickly:
Songs were only written for electronic kids pianos, sheets-of-music were only available anymore for this one brand of instrument.

Manufacturers of other musical equipment slowly ran out of customers, so most of them signed agreements with the electronic kids piano's manufacturer in order to stay in business. They supplied add-ons, melodies and books for it.
Even amplifiers, cables, plugs, etc... were only made for one brand of toy piano anymore.
It became very hard for Gretel and her friends to buy strings, drum sticks, pickups, etc... for their instruments, because almost no shops offered them. When they asked for it, they were only offered equipment for kids pianos...

Now almost everyone had one of those electronic pianos at home, because now everyone could "play" music.... So everyone wanted one of those toys!

In newer versions of that famous electronic kids piano, the manufacturer removed the possibility to play single notes. Why? Because noone wanted
to play them anyway.

Additionally, they crippled the "home" versions of their pianos to limit the number of simultaneously played notes.
Thus, "professional" piano-musicians had to buy more expensive models.
After all, those kids pianos were still toys, but because noone could play real instruments anymore, those toys could now also be found in professional environments.

Gretel became sad, because she knew that there were more songs, melodies and tunes out there to be played, so she started surfing the Internet for other "real" musicians.
She found out that there are numerous other instruments with different sounds, styles and possibilites out there! What an amazing new world!
And those instruments could be played freely. Not like that kids piano which could only play what a new, costly melody-upgrade allowed you to.

So Gretel and some others formed a band, writing impressive songs -but... They hardly found places to perform publicly: Every bar, every festival only wanted electronic kids piano players, because that was what the majority was used to.

Gretel and her friend musicians kept on going and they managed to "infect" others with their way of thinking about the freedom of playing.
The freedom of choice, the freedom that people could make their own music - build their own instruments and play together like they want to.

Unfortunately, the greedy manufacturers of electronic kids pianos became
afraid of this way of thinking, because they would lose their monopoly - and thus, plenty of money!
Since they were filthy rich already, they were able to direct the industry, politicians and media into directions THEY desired - this made it possible to invent new laws, preventing "own music" or improvements of existing tunes by making them illegal.

They even came up with their own, proprietary musical scale - undocumented and kept secret on purpose.

Now Gretel and her friends could not play together with any electrical pianos anymore, because they were out of tune! To their rescue came some musicians with golden ears which reverse-engineered some of the
proprietary tuning of the kids pianos, in order to be able to play together with them.

But as if it wasn't already hard enough for those poor kids to learn and improve playing their instruments, the evil manufacturers of electronic kids pianos slightly changed their musical scale with every new model they put out on the market.


Makers of free musical instruments had a hard time surviving, because when someone bought one of their "real" instruments, they complained that they couldn't handle it like the piano they knew from everywhere else - furthermore, it didn't sound anything like it! (and also most people weren't able to get a single well-sounding note out of it, too...)

Now some of Gretel's friends had the idea that if they'd "clone" those kids pianos, they could address more people out there! So they started bulding their own versions of the famous electronic kids pianos.
They were able to promote them easier than real instruments, but this only led to another set of instrument that limited your possibilities.

Desperately, Gretel went out to promote her fiddle! She got out on the
streets and played in public...
Some stared at her and whispered to each other: "what's that sound? I've
never heard anything like that before. Sounds strange and unfamiliar."

Others, mainly kids-piano-musicians, became interested and asked Gretel
if they could try playing her fiddle, too! But oh no! Suddenly, so-called professional music artists were only able to play "squeeeeks", "pluck sounds" and "chaotic sounding noise"!

They became deeply insulted and damned those "non norm-conform"
instruments, not seeing that it was THEM who couldn't play it - and NOT
the fiddle being broken.

The people were already bound to their electronic toys!

Excellent.... That's the train the evil manufacturers hopped on, and proceeded with their marketing plans.

...and they lived happily ever after until mankind became extinct, due
to lack of music.

"But, how could this happen?" you might ask. "Everyone had toy pianos!
They WERE making music!"
Indeed, but the people who originally programmed melodies into those devices and others, who were responsible for tuning the instrument became old and their knowledge got lost.

Noone learned this knowledge in school or in universities, because it was proprietary, patented good of the electronic-piano manufacturer.
Those with knowledge about building and playing real instruments have become extinct. Leaving the rest of the world with only a handful of songs: the ones on the existing toy pianos.

Unfortunately, those pianos have intentionally been made in a way that they would, after a certain amount of time, turn themselves off.
Forever... - Forcing music artists all over the globe to buy new ones!
But NOW, there were none left.

Almost all melodies ever created by men and women were locked away in a pile of electronic kids toys - which were defective by design.
Jumping out of an airplane is not a basic instinct. Neither is breathing underwater. But put the two together and you're traveling through space!
Absolute Beginner
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 7:49 pm


Post by pew »

alle diese texte haben etwas gemeinsam:

sie vermischen die diskussion ueber freie offene standards und
alternative arbeitsmodelle mit eigenschaften von produkten
(wie zb.: gestaltung des userinterfaces) die eben unter diesen
bedingungen hergestellt wurden.

die essenz der gemeinschaftlichen produktion (und dem zugrundeliegend
natuerlich auch die essenz offener standards) von software liegt meiner
meinung nach in ihrer evolutionaeren natur.
die qualitaet einer eigenschaft wird letztlich vom freien
wettbewerb der ideen der menschen die daran gearbeitet haben bestimmt.

in der softwareindustrie hat sich in den 80er jahren der trend zu
proprietaeren lizenzen durchgesetzt, die (urspruengliche) idee der
vergesellschafteten (=nicht im privat beseitz befindlichen)
software wurde aber von einigen technikern 'konserviert' und somit bis
in die spaeten 90er gerettet, in denen diese letztendlich wieder
groesseren anklang fand.

die heutigen auf freier software basierenden systeme sind also
in einem jahrzehntelangen prozess des freien wettbewerbs der ideen von
technikern designed und weiterentwickelt worden.
die evolutionaeren optimierungen der gemeinschaftlichen produktion
sind also in erster linie in die technische eleganz des systems geflossen.
auch das user interface ist aus diesem geist entstanden:
technisch elegant, effizent.
da dieserart entstandene systeme heute als referenzmodell fuer die
gemeinschaftliche produktion gelten, werden eiegnschaften dieser
technischen systeme (wie zb deren technisch gehaltenes userinterfaces)
haeufig als eigenschaften der produktionsverhaeltnisse missverstanden.

diese projektion kann zb von lobbies der
proprietaeren softwareindustrie eingesetzt werden um in der gesellschaft
eine abneigung gegen freie system hervorzurufen
("da muss ich dann ur viel ueber computer lernen, das interessiert mi
net und ich hab eh ka zeit").

diese projektion (und hier schliesst sich nun endlich der kreis) wird
aber auch haeufig von den protagonisten der heutigen freien software
bewgung verinnerlicht: den technikern.
und schlimmer kann es nicht werden: eben diese verwenden dieses
missverstaendnis in ihren argumentationslinien (siehe obige geschichten)
und tun damit letztlich nur ihren gegnern gutes.

gluecklicherweise nimmt die menge der leute die sich fuer gemeinschaftliche
produktion interessieren und aktiv mitwirken zu, und damit auch die menge
der unterschiedlichen qualifikationen.
dies wird sich positiv auf die qualitaet der diskussion auswirken und zu
weiteren optimierungen freier system abseits technischer raffinesse fuehren.

eure armut kotzt mich an
Post Reply