Re: Another point about Mathematica 8.0
- To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
- Subject: [mg116422] Re: Another point about Mathematica 8.0
- From: AES <siegman at stanford.edu>
- Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2011 04:28:12 -0500 (EST)
- References: <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
In article <ij8d09$370$1 at smc.vnet.net>, P_ter <petervansummeren at gmail.com> wrote: > > It seems to me that a very peculiar business model streams > Mathematica. As a consequence: now and than a kind of trauma bubbles up > in this math group. > Some of these peculiarities stem from the fact that a software app is basically, in fact, a _tool_. Users buy this tool, just like they buy a hammer, or a table saw, to _do_ things -- make and build things -- with it. But there is a problem with this: unless constrained somehow, a user can buy this tool, then make and give away unlimited copies of the tool to others at essentially zero cost. This is understandably poorly received by the vendors of the tool. So, we've gotten into in all this "licensing" idiocy with software: we users allegedly don't "buy" the app, we "license" it, and can only use it to make things that the vendor has licensed us to make. This is, of course, garbage -- legal garbage, but garbage. Imagine going to the hardware store to buy a table saw, or vacuum cleaner, or a paint sprayer, and being asked by the hardware store to sign a several thousand word license saying just what you're allowed to do with those appliances, for whom, and where. (Maybe you buy a vac with a "Home License"; you can then vacuum your own house, but not loan it to the local nonprofit to vacuum their premises, or carry it around and use it in a small home cleaning service you operate.) A second problem is that Wolfram, Inc., is in some ways a very peculiar organization. It makes an absolutely superb and more or less unique product, but a product that has an immense impact on the intellectual and academic and scholarly life of our society. Yet, it's a totally private organization, with very little public reporting, very little public guidance, very little regulation, very little transparency -- and in some ways very little direct competition for what it does. My solution? It's long past time that we have a true _open source_ competitor for Mathematica (it might be called "Wikimatica"). One can only hope that the academic and scholarly and IT communities will eventually get around to going at this task.