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Re: [tlug] kickstarter for open source...

Ulrike Schmidt writes:

 > Since you are an economics professor I trusted you could give me
 > rational reasons, not merely your intuiton. 

That's a very big mistake.  As I said, my intuition is not truth.  On
the other hand, I do this for a living.  It's a really bad thing for
me if I say something in a public forum and it turns out to not only
be wrong, but wrong for a reason I should have known about.  There's
quite a bit at stake for me here....

 > Well, I don't care about your intuitions, but about your arguments.

Do you say that to people you have sex with?  Or do you just accept
that they know what makes you feel good even though you didn't know it
yourself (if you haven't had that experience, it's worth waiting for!)

My intuition has nowhere near that value, but hey, nothing does. :-)

 > As I psychologist I would say people's motivation is relevant, if it 
 > comes to whether they are going to support a project or not.

Psychologists have that bias.  Too bad for psychologists when they try
to do economics.  Wakatta kai?  Tabun wakatte inai ga, zan'nen to omou

 > The ones I am really intersted in,

But when we're talking a whole industry that could do wonders with a
million dollars, who gives a fuck about *your* 50 euros?  There are
very few projects with a make or break line of 5000 yen (and not so
many at even 100,000 yen, although apparently Curt would cough up that
much -- I assume that's for "Lara Croft Finds Treasure in Your Bed,
and It's You!" :-).  What matters is what 200,000 people with $50
think.  If you're actually representative of 200,000 individuals,
that's just 1 in 200,000 luck -- buy a lottery ticket if you think
lightning will strike twice!

 > I am currently not supporting all possible projects with code, I
 > won't do so in the future.

Exactly my point.  Question is, what make you think that the projects
you like are the ones that "deserve" to win?

 > If does not solve some of them yet but could possibly soon if I
 > give someone money (call it whatever pleases you and is
 > scientifically correct) and the amount is within my constraints the
 > chances are high that I will do so.

I will call it what I like, and that's "donation to funding
projects".  This is probably a very good thing.

 > Since you don't care about my personal motivation I claim that a lot of 
 > people are thinking in the same lines. I have to admit this is based on 
 > my intuition as a psychologist

I think a lot of people are thinking along the same lines, too.  The
difference between us is that implicitly you believe that in "Project
X" they have the same "X" in mind as you, and I don't.  Furthermore, I
believe that to the extent that Kickstarter seems to be working, the
number of open source "X"'s will proliferate far more rapidly than the
open source dollars (or euros or yen) to be allocated to them will.

 > (I am not a professor)

Which makes no difference to me.  "Not a trained economist" and "not a
professor at all" are equivalent here, and neither is conclusive.  I
believe in my opinion because it's mine.  (It case it isn't obvious,
you should do the same for your opinion, probably.)  I suggest
*others* may wish to put some weight on my opinion because I'm an
economics professor.  If I really wanted to be a jerk I'd mention that
my degree is from Stanford University (sadly enough, that carries an
absurd amount of weight in this country, but I assume most of us are
free of that disease).

In other words, I will review my opinions because yours differ (but so
far I have seen no reason to change my basic opinions, although I have
already adjusted my expression of rationales).  You might want to put
a little more weight on mine because of my qualifications, but you may
not change your mind.  *shrug*  Anyway, I won't  think less of  you
unless I discover you lose money or face because you pig-headedly
refused to listen to me, because that would suck in a self-destructive
way, and that's about as much as anything can suck.  If you see what I
mean (as a psychologist I think maybe you do! ;-)

 > The other day I was asked by an instution that helps artists with video 
 > processing whether there aren't any open source video processing 
 > software projects that they could use and fund the development of 
 > special features. They did not know how to find them. They have list of 
 > projects now and I will see how this develops.

A useful experiment, no doubt.  I hope it goes way better than anybody
expects.  Then I'd be wrong, and that would be a good thing.  My
"face" notwithstanding. :-)

 > Anyway, I am getting confused about this discussion and what you
 > really want to tell us and what you think it is really about.

The question I started with is "is crowd-funding likely to be a good
way to fund open-source software and related open-license goods (eg,
CCBY videos)" and my answer is "it will work well for early entrants,
but over time the market will get saturated and we'll be back to the
current situation where projects that will obviously return 1000% to
their investors get funded (one way or another), and those those are
only worth 50% more to their users than the cost of development will
go begging."  (In economic theory, it's optimal for all projects whose
users consider them worth at least as much as their payment to be
funded, so this situation is suboptimal.)

My assessment, furthermore, is that more economically attractive uses
of crowdfunding (eg proprietary games, graphic novels) are likely to
crowd out (both in funding terms and in visibility terms) the FLOSS

Pessimistic, yes, desirable, no.  But FWIW that's my somewhat expert


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