Software Conspiracy

The Software Conspiracy by Mark Minasi

ISBN 0-07-134806-9 This is a book that you should read if you work in the software industry if only because quite a few people will be asking you questions based on its contents.

Mr Minasi is trying to be to the software industry what Upton Sinclair was to meatpacking or Ralph Nader was to Cars. Namely, the GadFly who gets the dinosaurs off their fat asses and stops the triumph of short term profits over longterm industry health. The book is a polemic and makes no pretense of being anything else.

Much of the book is focused on the makers of shrinkwrap software and the relatively scandalous business practices of the industry. Particularly, the licensing arrangements that are commonly not divulged until after the sale and that include undue restrictions. (One particularly heinous example is a court case in which the license in question forbade loading the program into memory. ;-)

Curiously, no mention is made of OpenSource, GNU FreeSoftware or Linux - especially strange, given the amount of ink devoted to UCITA (American commercial law, might be adopted by WTO) which is currently one of RichardStallman's hobby-horses.

It should be noted that UTICA has only been adapted by two states, both in a somewhat weakened form. Another US state (Iowa) has an anti-UTICA statute on its books; claiming that any product sale commenced in that state is not bound by the UTICA provisions of any other state, regardless of whether or not the seller attempts to specify the law of a UTICA state as the choice of law governing the relationship between client and seller. Still, UTICA is obnoxious law.

One significant weakness is that the book is full of AmericanCulturalAssumptions and discusses balance of trade in nationalistic tones that haven't been heard since the 1980s. ''For example, describing how in the Bad Future, the US military will not be able to create new fearsome war machines because all software will be developed outside the country.

Additionally, Minasi moralizes at length against software "pirating", not seeming to realize how out of step he is with his audience.''

Minasi's view of information technology seems to be stuck in the PC era, even though some of the UCITA aspects that he discusses, like the self-help clause, are dependent on the internet. It's an interesting read, although it can seem less than relevant at times. -- LarryPrice

The self-help and time-bomb clauses probably deserve a page of their own, UcitaThreatOrMenace? perhaps.

I have not read this book, but HanlonsRazor springs to mind - "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Exactly, and Minasi makes his living writing Windows NT and 2000 books and giving training. If there is a conspiracy, he's part of it. -- sg

"Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."


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