|Hi Maurice. |
Andrew M. Odlyzko appears to agree with your reasoning [in #msg-26846748] on this matter, as do many others, I've come to learn (and even agree with, if you could fathom that;).
Earlier AMO posted the following to the Cook Report on Internet, which I feel assured he'd be agreeable to my reposting here (especially since it serves to advance the awareness of his writing, which awareness-raising could itself be regarded as one of the central theme elements in this thread, to begin with):
"But hasn't human life always been based on looking for ways to take
advantage of other people's contributions? And isn't this reflected
in our language? We say that General Meade "won" the Battle of
Gettysburg, and forget the almost 100,000 other Union Army troops
who did the heavy fighting.
To quote from my recent "bubbles and gullibility" paper,
The many varied effects that contribute to economic progress today
very clearly presaged by a tale from late Victorian times, and from
other side of the Atlantic. There is no indication that Mark Twain
this in mind, but the adventure of Tom Sawyer and Aunt Polly's fence
is very prophetic. Tom, condemned to a Saturday of drudgery,
the fence, had ``a great, magnificent inspiration.'' When another
came along and made fun of Tom for supposedly liking to work, Tom's
Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy
chance to whitewash a fence every day?
That changed the mind of the new arrival, and after a great show of
reluctance by Tom, the other boy bought himself the right to do some
the painting in exchange for an apple.
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity
heart. And while the [other boy] worked and sweated in the sun,
retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled
munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents.
was no lack of material; boys happened along every little
came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. ... And when the
of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy
morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides
before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece
bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, ...
He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while--plenty
company--and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If
run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the
In Twain's words, Tom Sawyer ``had discovered a great law of human
without knowing it--namely, that in order to make a man or a boy
a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to
It appears that many have discovered this, including some policy
Some have likely drawn additional lessons from it. Tom Sawyer
``beautiful illusion'' that induced the village boys to exert
for the public good, while feeling happy about what they paid Tom.
(And is that much different from what we observe in free software,
aside from the fact that free software projects have not yet
to the stage of being able to charge participants for contributing?)
That the rewards all went to Tom was not particularly material. And
may be why, in recent times, so many of the material rewards of
growth have gone to other creators of ``beautiful illusions.''
What's different today, in the examples cited on this thread, is that
are not being asked to do physical labor in hot sun, but engage in
at their computer screens that are instructive and amusing.