Re: Left off the ballot?

From: David Jefferson <d_jefferson_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Thu Apr 15 2004 - 14:48:52 CDT

Doug,

Well said, and great analogy to the legal code. I agree
completely--published source is no panacea, but it is a whole
lot better than secret code.

David

--- "Douglas W. Jones" <jones@cs.uiowa.edu> wrote:
> David Jefferson's note ended saying:
>
> > My suggestion is the OVC make this point publically and
> strongly: the
> > bottom line is that the only possible way to know that
> problems like
> > these are not written into the code is to make the code
> public!
>
> But we also need to make it clear that we understand the
> limits
> of open source development. There's an analogy I like to use
> when
> I present this to the public. Consider our code of laws. The
> formulation of law codes in democratic countries is an open
> process
> once the law is formally introduced for debate. All revisions
> are
> published, and thousands of citizens, many of them lawyers,
> many
> of them paid to do this, examine the text of the proposed laws
> with an eagle eye, looking for anything that isn't in the
> public
> interest.
>
> Despite this open development process and despite this
> scrutiny,
> the laws we enact have occasionally contained clauses, that,
> long
> after the fact, were discovered to be personal favors from
> legislators to their friends, or even worse, legislation that
> serves
> only the personal benefit of one legislator.
>
> Legislation that, after the fact, served only to create a tax
> exemption for a long-time supporter of one congressman, or
> that
> built a private tennis court for a congressman, or things like
> that.
>
> How does this stuff get by? Because, like software, legal
> text
> is arcane stuff. An experienced reader can go over a section
> of
> text several times and never understand its real implications.
>
> We need to admit that we know this.
>
> Of course, without the public scrutiny the law is exposed to
> before
> passage, the situation could only be worse, and we know that
> the same
> is true of software.
>
> Doug Jones
> jones@cs.uiowa.edu
>
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Received on Fri Apr 30 23:17:07 2004

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