May 29, 2012

Dilemma


I just received this in email:

"While your motives may be pure, I could lose what little consulting work I have if this gets produced--and since my husband (a journalist) has been out of work for 4 years, and I make less at my full-time teaching job than I did right out of college 20 years ago--I beg you to reconsider offering products for free. It doesn't help people, it only hurts them. Without my consulting income, we run out of money by the 15th every month."

I've never felt so conflicted in my life. Comments on this are most welcome.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Writing computer programs is always about putting people (including oneself) out of a job. It may be sad but that's how it works...
What some individuals lose, the society gains.

James Salsman said...

There are a number of thoughtful (and not so thoughtful) responses to this at:

https://plus.google.com/113215976889659570939/posts/HvT8TQSHtTr

Here are some excerpts:

"If someone does not offer products for free many people cannot afford to pay and they can never learn anything new. They remain stuck in the mud for all their lives doing nothing good for themselves."

"An important resource for disruptive innovation to be popularly desirable is the assumption that future is going to be better; that the fruits of the innovation are going to be distributed in a fair manner."

"She should go out and become an expert on these types of programs and then offer to help people figure out how to use them, and offer her own classes/tutoring making use of these same tools. She could probably wring more out of them than the average person."

"If this tool works, the demand for learning ESL in general will probably increase -- I bet the demand for learning foreign languages has increased as a result of the existence of Rosetta Stone, because it simply makes learning foreign languages easier and more accessible. If the demand for learning ESL in general increases, I'd say that your writer gets more work, not less. People will still want other humans to practice with and point out their finer flaws."

Of course that last one is my favorite. I hope it's true.