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Re: Footnote Call Was: New Java-based software speech synthesizer available
Although I can see a merit in what everyone has contributed to this
discussion, I still think the original point may have been lost or
maybe its just lost on me!
As I see it and I think it may have been the point Raman was trying to
make, there is a difference between free software and open
source. There is software which is free, but is not open source and
there is software which is open source, but is not free. It is
incorrect to argue that because software is free it should be open
source or conversely, because software is open source it is free. In
fact, some open source software is closer to the notion of "shareware"
whereby you get the software and the sources, but if you find them
useful and continue to use them you are supposed to pay for it or you
are asked to contribute some amount based on what you think it is
worth and what you can afford - sort of an honor system.
As I see it, the whole notion of open source has very little to do
with providing software to people who cannot afford it for whatever
reason. In my view, open source is primarily about cooperation and
colaboration in development to produce high quality usable software -
the fact it is often provided at no charge is really just a
side-effect arising from the difficulties associated with trying to
charge for the software and determine who should recieve the
money. It is wrong to assume we have any right to insist that open
source is or should be free.
In fact, such attitudes probablly do us
more of a disservice and retards the development of open source
projects. While I think emacspeak is the best speech enabled solution
available, imagine how well developed it would be if we actually
contributed either by adding to its functionality or by paying some
reasonalbe amount which could be used to fund its development - for
example, if we all contributed $10 we could probably pay someone to
sit down and write comprehensive and thorough manuals/tutorials - (this
is no reflection on the excellent work which has already been done in
this area) or fund the development of w3 or additional drivers for
other hardware synthesizes etc etc. Personally, I'd take a
significant cut in pay to be able to wrk full time on such projects
which I believe in rather than having to work for a company doing
programming which does not inspire me at all, but which does pay the
rent. As it stands, I personally feel guilty the majority of the time
because I ahve not contributed enough to emacspeak considering how
much I have benefited from it. However, I have contributed to other
open source projects and have made any software I have written open
source when possible, which is not enough, but better than nothing at
There are many wonderful benefits associated with open source software
- the fact its usually free should not be seen as its main benefit. In
fact, if we want to see the continued development of open source, we
should not see it as free at all - open source comes with an
obligation and that obligation is that you try to contribute to its
development in some way - the contribution can take many forms from
helping to track down and identify bugs, contributing to code
development or maintenance, writing documentation and tutorials or
being prepared to run the latest unstable version to act as alpha or
beta testers etc. You don't need to be a computer professional or
programmer to contribute - in fact its well known the best testers are
those who have the least understanding of computers and often the best
tutorials are written by those with the least programming knowledge
because they are more familiar with the problems of novice users etc.
If you know nothing about computers or programming you can contribute
by being pro-active when encountering problems - instead of just
posting to the list and saying "I can't get X to work, why not?", try
to do as much as you can to identify the cause of the problem and when
you finally do get the solution (either by working it out yourself or
from someone else) why not write it up and post it to the list so that
others can benefit. Contribute to documentation and tutorials and
don't just post to the list when you have problems - watch the list
and try to help others with problems etc.
Maybe we should find out if Raman likes pizza - if you don't feel you
can contribute maybe you can get on the net and send him a pizza -
then he can continue developing the best audio desktop available and
not have to stop to cook dinner!
Thats my rant for 2002 - I promise.
Rob Hill writes:
> Here's my contribution to the discussion about Open Source software
> and people with learning difficulties. I think it's important.
> My own position is that I am visually impaired enough to be unable to
> read or drive, working as a physiotherapist (physical therapist) in
> New Zealand.
> My association with computers began with Windows and Jaws, which was
> basically a series of frustrations both for me and the people trying
> to keep the system working. My son, who is vastly more
> computer-literate than I am, set up Emacspeak for me a couple of years
> ago. Linux, Emacs, and Emacspeak are incomparably better than the
> windows/Jaws set-up because:
> -they are stable: once something works, it continues to work
> - the whole thing is text-based: we are not continually hanging off
> -the coat-tails of visual methods, and trying to find convoluted ways
> -round problems which should not exist
> - It is more useful, supplies more information, and creates a coherent
> -sound-world, instead of a distorted interpretation of a visual
> -It is free, unless one counts the time and effort of learning.
> Now, I hope the last statement doesn't raise the hackles of other
> listers, because that is the subject I wish to write about. Why do
> people write open-source software? Eric S. Raymond's articles http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/x340.html
> are interesting. Obviously, the motive can't be financial, unless for
> some it's the hope of their work being noticed, eventually leading to
> financial gain. But for most, the motivation must lie elsewhere.
> Now, so far as I can see, most of the development is done in the spare
> time of people working in the computer industry. The likes of me,
> even if I had the ability, if I put in the time to learn enough
> programming skills, I'd have no time left to keep up with my physio
> work. And the percentage of people with the capability and means of
> developing software must be very small, compared to the number of
> people to whom this software is of enormous use. So is Linux, and
> Emacspeak to be a club confined to those with programming skills? Or,
> since the motive for developing open-source software isn't financial,
> why not welcome the fact that people who can't contribute can
> nevertheless benefit? Or, even better, some people with the necessary
> skills might find satisfaction in solving some of Jonathan's clients'
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