Linked by David Adams on Tue 26th Oct 2004 16:30 UTC
Editorial The software industry is undergoing a gradual transformation, and consumer fatigue is at its root. The licensing model that has formed the basis for the modern software industry is facing challenges on many fronts, and the industry is scrambling to keep its footing. Where this period of change may lead software producers and consumers isn't quite clear, but some trends are emerging. Since the proliferation of the internet, unauthorized redistribution of digital goods has become rampant. But although software sharing probably won't kill the software industry, the reasoning behind it shares some pedigree with the customer revolt that promises to transform the way software is sold.
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If my memory serves me correctly, it was actually some form of gun that was assembled on an assembly line like cars are, though not nearly as complicated to manufacture.

But then, if we want to break things down more, there are more ordinary items that were first made on assembly lines, such as cloth, and perhaps furniture for the common person, though I can't give a year for that.

One thing I've not seen mentioned in either the article or all the preceding comments to this one (58 as of the time I wrote this) is the amount of time and effort required by a creator of software to learn and master their trade sufficiently well to create the product. I find it curious that many people will insist that software should/must be free, simply because it costs nothing to distribute (or very close to it) and yet, if you ask them to do some sort of labor or provide the time/effort to instruct you in something of their expertise, they'll quickly complain that they had to work hard to get/learn/earn that, and they'll say no, there's no such thing as a free lunch!

Now, if societies that have the infrastructure to support software development actually paid some sort of stipend to software developers that produce software that the public sees as having value, then by simple logic, there'd be nothing wrong with people profiting off the work of the developer(s), as the developer(s) would be assured of some form of compensation that allowed them to pay for minor things like food, water, fuel, shelter, and perhaps a few nice things. How that stipend would be calculated would be an interesting discussion unto itself, but perhaps something agreeable to the society and the developers could be worked out, based on experience/skill/quality of the works, combined with some assessed value for fitness of use for one or more tasks the software is designed for. To some small degree, this is where some people are getting a small amount of income from people making PayPal donations to support the development of software, but entirely on the honor system, which doesn't appear to ensure nearly enough income to depend on someone making a living off of.

The university I attend (IUPUI) assesses a "Technology Fee" (I think I've got it correctly named) for the usage of the IT infrastructure, which is assessed each semester for all students. For a long time, I saw no value in paying that fee, as I had all the IT infrastructure I wanted/needed at home. However, as of this time, I'm finally recouping the fees in terms of value, by using the dialup account I had available, as opposed to using some horrible "free" (advertising supported) ISP, or some other provider (note: I'm currently severely underemployed, and I might argue it is related to the whole article attached to these comments) and though it isn't ideal for many things (certain ports are blocked, for example) it is of enough value in a crunch.