The throw-away-mentality which evolved from free software

Since I am interested in Software in general, besides crawling through several software-developing platforms, I read the rss-feed from freshmeat.net. Sometimes I find interesting software, somtimes interesting enough to try it out, sometimes even interesting enough to blog about it. But mostly, I can just … facepalm. Almost any description contents phrases like „powerfull“, „simple yet powerfull“, „convenient“. For most of the software I just ask myself „why?“ – „why would anybody need yet another shitty, buggy, beta-state implementation of something that basically just does the same thing in the same shitty way as thousands of other projects did before?“.

For example, to me it seems like creating „new, simple, powerfull“ CMSs is a current trend, and anybody needs to do it, and anybody needs to congest sourceforge and freshmeat with it. Creating a small CMS is easy, sometimes easier than installing some existing system, sometimes it is just more fun for the person, but never should there be a reason to start and announce a new project if it doesnt have any meaningfull difference to other systems – writing it is fun and instructive, hosting it on an own page is ok, and even hosting it on freshmeat or sourceforge is ok if you dont have another place – but then please admit that it is „just another“ or „yet another“ CMS (or whatever), and maybe think of better hosting it on some other service like github (which is – in my oppinnion – better for small fun-projects because it is focused on social contacts to other programmers).

In fact, I can remember my first steps with php on internetworx were quite joyful. And, as a young boy, knowing the QuickBasic-Reference blindfolded, with a book about JavaScript and a Tutorial about PHP, I even thought my software was „really good“, so good that other people would use it. But well, there were thousands of other young boys doing the same. Thats why you have to learn programming. Thats why I didnt release any software yet – its not good enough (and well, I still feel like a boy, an old boy now, but mostly I am considered being a young man, but from whatever point of view, I am still learning, I am no „good“ programmer).

The availability of fast internet connections and cheap virtual servers made webhosting available to anybody. In my imagination, there are now a lot of young boys sitting in front of their virtual servers, learning bash and elementary knowledge about unix and bloated „standard“ systems like Apache, PostgreSQL, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and thinking that the small CMS they have just coded is good enough to found a new startup (looking at the current „top web 2.0 platforms“, well, its conceivable that the software they code is better, but thats not the point).

But actually, I dont think that all of these projects come from young people. While in what I consider being the past you had to be really interested in programming and the web, and therefore had to start at a comparably young age, with all the naive dreams coming with it, today it is so easy that anybody can to go „on the internet“, even older people, even though they are not familiar with programming. And I think that these projects mostly come from this kind of people. People who cannot find software which suits them (maybe because they dont know how to use Google and Fora), and then start to build their own software project.

From the stories told by „old unix people“ I heard that in the past that kind of software – databases, webinterfaces, communication platforms, etc. – was expensive and hard to maintain, and mostly well-engineered, i.e. when you chose a software, you would likely stay with it for a long time because changing it would just be too expensive. Today, Computers are fast, mostly too fast for their purpose, and all the software you need can be obtained for free. When you payed for something, well, you will cultivate it like a piece of land, if there is some small part which doesnt fit your needs, you will try to adapt your system somehow to make it work anyway. When you get it for free, you can just throw it away like a blowrag.

People dont see any value in software anymore. From the spirit of free software – free as in free speech, not (necessarily, but mostly) as in free beer – evolved a throw-away-mentality, where any software can be thrown away and replaced by a cheap, dirty weekend-hack of some sauerkraut factory owner who just read a small book about php. From the newLisp-page comes the shiny quote

LISP is an old language born, grown, and standardized in times very different from today, times when programming was for highly educated people who engineered programs. newLISP is LISP reborn as a scripting language: pragmatic and casual, simple to learn without requiring you to know advanced computer science concepts.

Yeah! Just hack something together with PHP, or Python, or NewLisp, or some other Scriptkiddie-Language NewLisp tries to compete with. Whether you are a thirteen year old boy or a paver, doesnt matter, you can do programming!

(Yes, I am in a very bad mood today!)

4 Antworten zu The throw-away-mentality which evolved from free software

  1. […] is a original:  The throw-away-mentality that developed from giveaway program …Related PostsNo Related […]

  2. […] The throw-away-mentality which evolved from free software … […]

  3. chessmaster_ess sagt:

    Well, the overall rambling and generalization of your blog was explained by your last sentence. And, I don’t think that the throwaway mentality came from free software, freewares, sharewares, etc.
    It came from plastic packaging.
    Any counter?

  4. dasuxullebt sagt:

    Thank you for your comment. I do not get the „plastic packaging“ metaphor (I assume it is a metaphor, otherwise it would not really fit into that topic). I cannot remember what exactly made me writing about this problem, and today, three years later (the post is from 2009), I would probably find friendlier ways to express my thoughts, but still. Throwing away free software for not being „perfect“, but accepting imperfectness when you had to pay for the software, is some behavior I saw often (currently especially when it comes to Mac-Users, but it is not limited to them). And I think that this is a phenomenon one should think about.

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