[Python-Dev] Democracy

Jack Diederich jack@performancedrivers.com
Wed, 23 Apr 2003 17:53:11 -0400

On Wed, Apr 23, 2003 at 02:31:53PM -0400, Guido van Rossum wrote:
> I read this interview in ACM's *Ubiquity* which reminded me of the
> Python developer community.  Seems we are doing some things right.
> Maybe we can learn from it in cases where we aren't.

He seems to be talking more about Governments (and treating companies as
governments b/c the people can't or don't want to leave) and knowledge workers

A better comparison would be Habitat for Humanity (and voluntary associations
in general).  Habitat has some fixed overhead for the organization.  They get
free labor from anyone that wants to contribute it and agrees with the scope
of work.  The amount of product they can churn out (houses) is greatly
increased by private donations that can hire full-time labor and marginal
supplies.  Most of the voluntary labor is from the local community who want
to see the area improved.  Would be home owners have to contribute large 
amounts of time in exchange for an inexpensive house built mostly by others.

It wouldn't go away if there was no funding, it would just be a local fixup
club (which do exist).  If there is a large group of people that think they 
should be building differently, they will form their own association (fork)
which will take some or all of the patrons and volunteers with it.

It maintains its character because the bulk of the labor and all the 
contributions are voluntary.  If they paid everyone and sold the houses at
a profit they would be a regular company.

The building houses vs building code analogy is not perfect.  Houses have fixed
costs per deployment a portion of which is paid by the new owner.  Software
costs are extremely low per copy, so that wouldn't work.  People get real
but widely varying benefits from a copy of python (personal site v commercial

In closing, if there is something to be learned by looking at others, 
specific purpose voluntary associations seem to be the better place to look
than governments.