Open source reflections 2

I’ve been spending the last couple of days maintaining and developing websites, both family- and work-related, which led to me to come to two not-so-original revelations.

1. How marvelous is it that any person with the necessary minimal skills can download free software and create a website in just a few hours? Even more amazing is that a person can have that website hosted for free, or at least darn cheap. I’m paying just $7.95 a month for this one and my computer-related site, for example.

2. Like any endeavor, developing and maintaining websites is an at times frustrating, but ultimately rewarding job. Open-source software makes step 1 possible for minimal cost, but at the expense of ease-of-use. WordPress may be an exception, but its content-management  cousins, php-nuke and Joomla can drive a person nuts.

So while I tear my remaining hair out, consider with me the amazing power that open-source software and low-cost webhosting offer the average Joe or Jo.

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2 thoughts on “Open source reflections

  1. Reply Dave Eaton Jul 29,2006 9:48 am

    Great points all, sir.

    I cannot tell you where I heard it, nor can I do it justice in my retelling, but I came across a related thought couched in terms guaranteed to irritate across the political spectrum:

    Capitalism has driven down the marginal cost of software creation and distribution to the point where it has reached close enough to zero that it is not impossible to imagine large swaths of the economy tending toward the marxist ideal of worker control of means of production. The leverage created could put physical means of production in worker hands as well- much of automation, machining, and physical production is now so computer-centric that this is not impractical, perhaps. Microcapitalism, fine-grained enough, might look a lot like the ‘gift economy’ envisioned by many on the left.

    Perhaps through a revolution of the mind rather than of the gun there can be a redistribution of power. I reserve judgement for now- my leanings are left libertarian, and dictatorship of proletariat is still dictatorship, so I’m agin it, and as such, I am deeply Marxo-skeptical – nevertheless, perhaps the understanding of dialectic was stopped a wee too early in human development- industrial production just has a lot more room for exploitation, and as you point out, there is a lot of once unimaginable power available to the regular Jane and Joe because of computers. There will be upheaval and struggle, but some of the playing field could potentially be leveled by technology.

    I confess that I revel (in perhaps an unbecoming fashion) in the skewering of doctrine, and so much of politics is ‘faith-based’ that nothing would entertain me more than capitalism giving rise to worker control of means of production. To accept that this followed on the heels of capitalism would give the ‘theorist’ heartburn as well, admitting that if capitalism is nothing else, it is a great search algorithm for figuring out how to do stuff, leaving aside whether to do it. It would gall the radical and the reactionary alike, and that is reason enough for me to cheer for it.

  2. Reply wheatdogg Jul 30,2006 7:27 pm

    Witness the reaction of the RIAA and MPAA to filesharing. They just don’t understand that filesharing is a whole new paradigm, when little kids and grandmas willfully download music and movies without any concern for copyright. The RIAA’s lawsuits are akin to stomping out brushfires while the forest is burnng down. The MPAA tried to get Sweden to shut down The Pirate’s Bay, but the outage lasted a day at most. People want their music and movies. They don’t want to mortgage the house to get it.

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