[Fsfe-ie] Patents letter, V4

Glenn Strong Glenn.Strong at cs.tcd.ie
Tue Jan 25 21:31:47 CET 2005

On Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 20:26 +0000, Rory McCann wrote:
> > > The current cost of writing software is zero.
> > 
> > This will sound weird to them. It sounds weird to me. I think they
> > will immediately say "of course it does, programmers need to be paid",
> > etc. and will be distracted from the point.
> >   "Unlike industrial processes there is no inherent cost to software
> > development. A programmer does not need to supply raw materials in
> > order to build a program since a program is an expression of an
> > idea. ** In this sense, at least, programming is more like mathematics
> > than industrial processes since the value in the program is only in
> > the way it expresses the ideas of the programmer **
> > 
> > (I'm not too thrilled with the text between the "**" markers)
> > Glenn Strong
> It'd be better to compare programming to writing a novel, a more
> familiar concept.

Yeah, I thought about that but I wondered how it would sound to a
non-programmer. Perhaps a point could be made distinguishing
commercial programming from hacking for fun and likening it to the
distinction between commercial writing and, say, novel writing or
poetry but I wasn't sure it would actually make the paragraph more
coherent. Give it a go, though!

Also, I hoped that the program=mathematics issue would be helpful in
identifying how software development relates to a field that has
traditionally been recognised as patent free.
Glenn Strong

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