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Re: Another point about Mathematica 8.0

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  • Subject: [mg116463] Re: Another point about Mathematica 8.0
  • From: Armand Tamzarian <mike.honeychurch at>
  • Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2011 04:35:29 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <iiten7$jl5$> <ij0e3s$992$>

On Feb 14, 8:28 pm, AES <sieg... at> wrote:
> In article <ij8d09$37... at>,
>  P_ter <petervansumme... at> 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.

It is not peculiar or unusual for a company to be private. e.g
Facebook is one that immediately comes to mind. It is surely up to an
owner to decide what they want to do with their investment. If they
value control and micro management more than maximizing revenue and
capital gain then that is still a valid choice even if you and I might
choose differently.

> 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.

There has been open source computer algebra systems since before Mathematica.
Some have passed on to software heaven but others are still around,
some with active development. One open source competitor seems
particularly obsessed with one upping Mathematica.

For all its short comings Mathematica remains miles ahead of these products.


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