software as monument, sci-fi 

capitalism likes estimates, and it gets nervous when it can’t price things against an estimate. it is exceedingly hard to price the production of software because its utility and its production is so distributed. if i hire 3 devs to build something, i am actually buying the labor of the thousands of devs who collectively produce the software ecosystem, but only 3 get paid. a corper looks at the three and wonders “why not just one?” but all they can do is obscure the required labor by foisting more of it into the communal aether. you still rely on thousands of people, you have just found ways to pay fewer of them.


re: software as monument, sci-fi 

as a result it is virtually impossible for capitalists to effectively price software, or to estimate its non-monetary costs. this results in an entrenched tradition of vaporware and demoware, because it’s so rare for funding to last long enough to reach maturity. instead we are incentivized to produce only what we can flip, because that is how you survive.

imagine instead the software of a world where nobody has to buy survival, so virtually all software is produced without wages. under those circumstances you still couldn’t price software, but you could more easily organize the labor to maintain it at a high quality. no more runways or investors breathing down your neck. we build roads and bridges here, and it takes time to make durable infrastructure.


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re: software as monument, sci-fi 

aboard the fictional vessel The Shepherd, everything is a monument. the ship was built over hundreds of years by numerous successive generations. everything from its materials to its software are masterpieces developed by guilds and syndicates with enduring traditions of excellence. it doesn’t phase them that things take many lifetimes, because everything is a monument. a cathedral. a wonder of existence. they take the time to make things that last.

capitalism cannot produce such things. “in the long run we’re all dead” they say, and it makes them short-sighted. they cannot conceive of the communal life that outlasts any individual, so rather than work to enrich it they can only cheat it for their own gain.


re: software as monument, sci-fi 

i believe it is not enough to unionize or to form guilds that can advocate for wages and conditions. they are vital steps along the way, but to produce good works, we must cast off the wage system altogether. only when no one must buy survival, only when we are not forced at gunpoint to cheat each other, can we build the monuments of which our crafts are capable. only then can we make good software.


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re: software as monument, sci-fi 

@garbados the Cathedral (Duomo) in Milan is an engineering project that has run, under the auspicious and endlessly full coffers of the Catholic Church, virtually uninterrupted since 1387. I think about it very often.

re: software as monument, sci-fi 

@millenomi that's very impressive. i'll have to read up on it 😲

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