[Discuss] Free Hardware

Javier Serrano Javier.Serrano at cern.ch
Thu Mar 12 20:23:57 UTC 2015

On 03/12/2015 05:45 PM, Matt Maier wrote:
> In the research I did on it I found a fundamental disconnect that will
> always create problems for funding libre work. The primary motivation of
> people who do free/open/libre work is pride in solving a hard problem
> and the secondary motivation is pride in being known by the community as
> someone who solves hard problems.
> They/we don't do it for financial reward. The upside is that it's much
> more likely to be shared openly. The downside is that boring stuff
> doesn't get done.
> The primary misunderstanding is that money is not an actor; money is
> what actors use to influence other actors. It doesn't make any sense to
> talk about money. Instead, talk about the actors. It's easy enough to
> identify the developers who need/want money, but the money doesn't just
> appear. The money comes from other actors. So who are those other actors
> and why would they want to influence the developers with money? Just as
> importantly, why would the developers be influenced by the money? That
> also helps explain why money is sometimes irrelevant, or even
> counterproductive, as in free/libre/open work. It's not about the money,
> it's about the actors influencing each other, and they can do that in
> ways that don't involve money.
> For example, if the community made a point of praising the developers
> who do boring work, like refining user interfaces, or updating
> documentation, more developers would do those things. If the community
> got together and demonstrated there's a need/market for some
> free/libre/open thing that doesn't exist yet more developers would start
> projects for that thing. Anybody who's good enough to be critical to a
> free/libre/open project is good enough to have a day job. That's not the
> problem. It's the community's lack of focus and short attention span
> that's the problem.

I am going to try that tomorrow in the bakery. I will praise the guy
very hard and ask for a croissant. If he refuses I will tell him he's
not cool ;) Don't get me wrong, I get your point. But I think we are
discussing different things. I am trying to find a way to involve some
of the 99% of the people out there who are great folks and have this
legitimate expectation of being able to guarantee their physical
survival, and that of their families, through their work. I am an
electronics designer. I think I can assert without much risk of being
wrong that a majority of the best electronics designers in the world are
working on proprietary designs. I might be mistaken, but I don't think
any amount of praise would make many of them drop their paid jobs and
start designing openly for free. Do you think it is a worthwhile goal to
try to attract some of that talent to free/open design, and if so, do
you have a recipe for doing so that does not involve money?

Since free software is a source of inspiration for many of us, let's ask
the question: do you think the Linux kernel would be the same without
Linus Torvalds and many other brilliant developers being paid to work
full-time on it? If not, do you think it would be better or worse?



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