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Re: Another point about Mathematica 8.0

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  • Subject: [mg116427] Re: Another point about Mathematica 8.0
  • From: Murray Eisenberg <murray at>
  • Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 06:32:40 -0500 (EST)

Re licensing: have you ever signed a rental agreement for a tool at a 
rental store? (True, it doesn't tell you what you can do with it; but 
you're giving away lots of rights when you sign it in case there's 
damage to it or damage/injury caused by it...)

Re proprietary product: The trick is to get all the really, really, 
really bright people with diverse mathematical, graphical, computer, 
design, and documentation skills: they tend to want to get paid so they 
can live.

There is in progress lately, of course, one open-source "computer 
algebra system". But as a unified system and a system with the diversity 
of capabilities of mathematica -- and even what's involved just to 
install it under Windows -- it falls well short of what Mathematica has 
to offer.

But if you're committed to such a project, perhaps you should contribute 
your time to the existing project.

On 2/14/2011 4:28 AM, AES wrote:
> 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.
> ...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....

> 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.

Murray Eisenberg                     murray at
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
Amherst, MA 01003-9305

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