OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index]
Re: [xml-dev] "Open XML" et al... Blech... Re: [xml-dev] Microsoftbuys the Swedish vote on OOXML?

Len Bullard wrote:
000001c7f217$1816de70$ee04b4d8@c4u6h3" type="cite">

Lock-in occurs when feedback based on near neighbors becomes irreversible
leading to a natural monopoly.  The question is then whether or not prices
are optimum for the customers.  If they aren't, a competitor has an easy
time taking over niches where price breaks count.  Looking at the adoption
of some products, it is obvious that this tends to be the early adopters,
hobbyists, start ups, etc.   Outside of Microsoft's competitors who are
fueling this controversy, those and the venture capitalists who will benefit
in reducing MS dominance in any software area by their manipulation of the
start ups.
I am all for capitalism, competition, and commercial success in the market.  The root of this discussion was about standardizing a common, open document format.  Open source can't be said to be about one thing, but much of what fuels it is that those outside of direct benefit from the winners (who took all), i.e. the cathedral.  Whether you are a user, developer, or government, you have choices that lead to being required to pay an endless stream of revenue for something that should be a commodity or to pooling your energy to support an actual commodity.  Open source, to some extent, is the embodiement of the realization that there are developers that have no real chance at competing commercially on commercial terms, but that can make a difference in their and the collective net state by creating a competitive commodity.

Microsoft can have all the "natural monopoly" they want, as long as they don't illegally extend it (anymore), but there is no justification for anyone outside Microsoft to hand over extensions to the monopoly when it is clearly not in the public good.  A public, open, agreed upon standard is something that, for most organizations (IETF, W3C) is something that all comers can reasonably recreate and compete in the market with.  (Possibly subject to a reasonable patent licensing arrangement.)
000001c7f217$1816de70$ee04b4d8@c4u6h3" type="cite">
But government interference is not always the best possible outcome.
Copyrights aren't enforced and patents become a means of exclusion.  What
about the case where the government finances the start up then allows it to
obtain patents on information developed by open sources such as OASIS at the
point of market emergence?
The main role in government in this is in having rules that allow and encourage competition by creating rules against dysfunctional practices that are "out of bounds".  These are the kinds of practices, like illegal tying in monopolies, that cause run away effects and are definitely not in the interests of consumers.  This includes standards processes that are open, complete, fair, correct, and in the interest of consumers.
000001c7f217$1816de70$ee04b4d8@c4u6h3" type="cite">
Doesn't happen, Mike?

Yes it does.  Remember HumanML?  The OASIS initiative ran for several years.
It produced prototypes and drafts, but mainly it produced an open list with
a lot of research into emotion engines for simulators.  It was derided on
this list and elsewhere.   Yesterday this showed up in the trades:



Look at the dates at the end of that paper.  Note who financed it:  DARPA
and NPS.  DARPA is the same organization that set Mosaic in motion having
seen the work at the US Army and other companies such as EBT.  NPS is one of
the bigger sponsors of VRML/X3D where HumanML spawned.

The government is not a singular good force for business.  It manipulates
the market too just as IBM is doing this time.   It's a rough game.  MS
plays to win because when one looks around, so is everyone else.

There is no "natural" monopoly.  There is competition, winners, losers, and
that profoundly unnatural but shining example of fools who become tools not
by being unintelligent or untalented but unbelievably naïve or worse, so
enchanted with their place in the priesthood they are more than willing to
entice the naïve to offer up their work to knife and bleed for the gods of
open source.
Sometimes perhaps people are a little too caught up in the "spirit of giving" and trade away possible commercial avenues.  Frequently however, developers are facing a highly uncertain and unlikely road to commercial riches.  It is quite reasonable to trade that uncertain road for simple technical success and eventual possible commercial success by going open source.  In fact, many will already have a full time job that they would never leave to start a software startup to try to run with an idea.  The fact that some do and others produce open source "competitors" is not anti-capitalist or socialist or whatever, it is simply a result of the availability of talent and the value of all kinds of compensation such as recognition, the knowledge that you made a difference, the learning that takes place when you try to compete on the world stage, etc.  The commodity mechanism also comes into play: if enough people want something and it is accessible enough to accomplish, a highly competitive open source product may emerge that has more manpower behind it, and competitiveness in the market, than any commercial product.
000001c7f217$1816de70$ee04b4d8@c4u6h3" type="cite">
Ayn Rand was right.
She was, but, for the most part, this is not about that.  Open source is not anti-objectivism.  For many people, via the mechanisms above and others, it is in fact a good embodiement of objectivism.  Power to the people by using the power of the people.  Ayn was rightly denigrating the stealing / taxing / coopting of those who can to give / do / create to those who can't / won't and allowing the recipients to be guilt-free and even righteous about their "right" to receive.  Open source is about giving, giving back when you receive, and a network effect / software-can-be-duplicated-for-free market where everyone benefits more than they put in.  Just because dollars aren't changing hands as much doesn't mean that it isn't a market. 

(Yikes.  Do you know that the IRS regulations tax barter the same as monetary transactions?  Luckily, open source is a "pay it forward" system for the most part which is not a "transaction" legally.)

000001c7f217$1816de70$ee04b4d8@c4u6h3" type="cite">

From: Michael Kay [mailto:mike@saxonica.com] 
I'm unsure about a 'natural tendency' to converge on a single 
software product, but individuals are often constrained by IT 

Ken, Everything you say about the history of how MS Office came to beat its
competitors is true, and it's an excellent analysis. But in other markets
you can be the dominant player with 30% of the market; with software
products such as Windows and Office, once you're in the lead or perceived as
being in the lead, there's a tendency for that 30% to become 90% because
even the people who prefer a different product find that it's easier to
follow the crowd rather than following their own preferences - and that's
all to do with interoperability of documents and transferability of skills.

It's true that the choice is sometimes at the corporate level and sometimes
at the personal level, but it amounts to the same thing: for every person
who chose MS Office because they liked it, there are four or five who use it
because it's easiest to use the same as everyone else. That's what's makes
it a natural monopoly, almost like public water supply. And in other areas
where there are natural monopolies, we don't allow the owner of that
monopoly to set arbitrary prices and make $40bn profits on $50bn of

Of course free enterprise is a good thing and governments shouldn't
interfere. But if governments didn't interfere then there wouldn't be any
copyright legislation and MS wouldn't be making any profit at all. MS are
wealthy because we, as citizens, have elected governments who have given MS
a license to print money. I'm not saying MS didn't make some good decisions
that led to them winning the jackpot - but the jackpot shouldn't be there to

Michael Kay


XML-DEV is a publicly archived, unmoderated list hosted by OASIS
to support XML implementation and development. To minimize
spam in the archives, you must subscribe before posting.

[Un]Subscribe/change address: http://www.oasis-open.org/mlmanage/
Or unsubscribe: xml-dev-unsubscribe@lists.xml.org
subscribe: xml-dev-subscribe@lists.xml.org
List archive: http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/
List Guidelines: http://www.oasis-open.org/maillists/guidelines.php


XML-DEV is a publicly archived, unmoderated list hosted by OASIS
to support XML implementation and development. To minimize
spam in the archives, you must subscribe before posting.

[Un]Subscribe/change address: http://www.oasis-open.org/mlmanage/
Or unsubscribe: xml-dev-unsubscribe@lists.xml.org
subscribe: xml-dev-subscribe@lists.xml.org
List archive: http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/
List Guidelines: http://www.oasis-open.org/maillists/guidelines.php

swilliams@hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw@lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-371-9362C 703-995-0407Fax 20147 AIM: sdw

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index]

News | XML in Industry | Calendar | XML Registry
Marketplace | Resources | MyXML.org | Sponsors | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1993-2007 XML.org. This site is hosted by OASIS