Sun, 11 Feb 2007

Was Archy ever alive?

Was Archy ever a live project? Of course Jef Raskin is dead now, so if Archy was ever alive, it is less alive now. But my thesis is instead that Archy was stillborn.

Archy, as a project, is radically different. In order to use it, you need to invest quite a bit of effort. As a proprietary, commercial system, it would have needed a huge amount of investment. The system needed to be programmed from the bottom up. It's so different from most other software that very little could be reused. Then, the company would have had to pay staff for a good twenty years before the software got enough sales to support its staff. That level of funding is nowhere to be found.

The only way, in my opinion, Archy could ever have succeeded is if it were an Open Source project. It isn't. The investment needed is no less simply because it's open source. What is different about open source versus proprietary development is that the investors are investing their own time, for their own reasons, for their own purposes. And yet the license they chose for Archy makes it clear that anybody contributing code does so for the benefit of the Raskin Center, since they and only they can license the code for commercial use.

So if you look at various Raskin Center pages, you'll see that no bug reports have been acted on in the last 14 months. Basically, the last person with permission to change Archy left then, and never turned the lights out. At this point, the Raskin Center should throw the existing code under a BSD-style license and see what happens to it.

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