Re: [gnome-cy] ACCAC: open-sourcing Y Termiadur

On Dydd Sul 13 Gorfennaf 2003 10:08 yb, Alan Cox wrote:
> One of the common goals of public finance is to make projects you kick
> off eventually self-finance. In the general case its a good idea - you
> can spend the next batch of money making something else happen. I get
> the feeling things like Termiadur are partly in this category.

"Partly"?  In fact, this is rarer in practice than in theory.  Often what 
happens is that there's not enough demand to make the project self-financing, 
nor more public money to sustain it.  It then withers away, wasting the money 
that was already invested in it.  There are quite a few examples of good 
Welsh-language projects where this has happened (Dafydd Tomos mentioned the 
RISC OS translation project only last month here) - if the outputs of these 
had been in the public domain, wider use could still be made of them, even if 
it is too expensive to publish them traditionally.  

Some publicly-financed projects will only ever be partly self-financing anyway 
(eg leisure centres).  You could say that there is a gatekeeper there (the 
local council, usually), and that the putative funders (local taxpayers) 
can't just go and use it any old time without paying (twice - they've paid to 
build it and now they have to pay to use it), or take bits of its walls away 
to put in their gardens, so why should things like Termiadur be any 
different?  To me, the main difference is that you can't share out bricks and 
mortar like this (you can only afford one centre), and there's also an 
ongoing cost of upkeep (eg you need to stop the roof leaking).  Neither of 
these apply to digital items (Stallman's argument) - there is no real cost of 
maintenance after the original codification, and you can take 1, 10, 100 
pages of Termiadur and give them to everyone in Wales without damaging 
Termiadur in any way - in fact, you help it in its original purpose.  

> > - even if melin were a completely free resource, it is purely web-based,
> > and cannot therefore be used for non-web purposes, eg packaged as a free
> > dictionary rpm;
> It could. In the same way as some mail clients know how to throw your
> mail through babelfish at the click of a button. This isn't something to
> do lightly or without melin being happy about it - they probably don't
> want their web server hammered flat.

Which proves my point, I think :-)

> > - the CD, apart from costing money, is presumably subject to some sort of
> > copyright too, although (part of) the contents may come under (a) above;
> Words are facts.

Which of course is an argument for starting from scratch on a Free Dictionary 
project.  But the question of why the voluntary sector should need to 
re-invent the wheel if the wheel has already been manufactured using public 
money remains unanswered.

> If you want to pursue the idea of building a whole new dictionary then I
> think talking to Mark might be a good starting point. Also to
> who have done this job in Denmark and built a lot of tools including
> voting tools, PDA based word review tools and a ton more.

Good point.

> Dewi is absolutely right - you need to convince the funders of this
> stuff to make it freely available when appropriate and to find ways they
> can do that without having to continue to put money into things.

"When appropriate"?  What you say is true, except that in the last resort we, 
the public, are the funders :-)  The money for these projects does not 
materialise out of the ether - it went: public -> taxes -> Treasury -> public 
finance round -> Department/Assembly -> budget process -> ACCAC -> CB.  We 
have some control over the initial stages via such things as elections, etc, 
but that seems to drain away towards the end, when the funds have been 
transmuted into a resource which could be distributed for virtually nothing, 
but isn't, even if it would actually support it's original raison d'�e to 
do so.  (I suspect it would be considerably cheaper, in fact, to put 
Termiadur in the public domain than to keep it in print.) 

Best wishes


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