In any intellectual field, one can reach greater heights by standing on the shoulders of others. But that is no longer generally allowed in the software field — you can only stand on the shoulders of the other people in your own company.

The associated psychosocial harm affects the spirit of scientific cooperation, which used to be so strong that scientists would cooperate even when their countries were at war. In this spirit, Japanese oceanographers abandoning their lab on an island in the Pacific carefully preserved their work for the invading U.S. Marines, and left a note asking them to take good care of it.

Conflict for profit has destroyed what international conflict spared. Nowadays scientists in many fields don’t publish enough in their papers to enable others to replicate the experiment. They publish only enough to let readers marvel at how much they were able to do. This is certainly true in computer science, where the source code for the programs reported on is usually secret.

— Why Software Should Be Free[1]

— Richard Stallman

[1] Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer. — Richard Stallman

2013.06.25 Tuesday ACHK