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Hired Magazine Interviews Good Software Group Founder

The following is an interview by Hired Magazine, the monthly magazine devoted to commerce and trade, with Gilbert Oram Dawson, the founder of the Good Software Group.

Hired: Gilbert, it's been fifteen years since you single-handedly created the Good Software movement and its spokesman and umbrella organization, the Good Software Group. How does it feel to be sitting in the catbird seat, now that Good Software is all the rage?
Dawson: It's a great feeling to see just about everyone either using or else wanting to use Good Software. It proves that I am the visionary I always told you I was. But I'll tell you this: it hurts me that most people don't realize that without the Good Software Group, they probably wouldn't even have any Good Software. In fact, most people who use Good Software have barely even heard of the GSG. It really wounds me to be so under-appreciated, even after all the Good Software that I've personally created for the world.
Hired: Maybe that has something to do with the common misunderstanding of what Good Software is really about. Not everyone uses `good' the way you do, you know.
Dawson: Listen, I'm getting really tired of that old refrain. You get the feeling that these people have never looked into a dictionary before. If you check, you'll find that it is perfectly legitimate to use `good' to refer to saleable commodities, merchandise, or wares.

For example, here's one from the dictionary: `All that follows will hold true of any storable good, like cotton, wool, rubber, tobacco, wheat, coffee, sugar, oil, copper, or tin.' Here's another: `As a steady, cheap, business-making consumer good,..the book is out.' And here's one more: `For example, the existence of stocks of goods which might have to be reduced in some amount before additional resources were guided to the favoured good were ignored.' Those are right there in the Oxford English Dictionary, so there's no room for argument.

I have invested many many years of my life in promoting Good Software. I am not about to change what I call it now simply because a bunch of idiots who never even finished grad school can't understand simple English words.

Hired: I'm sorry. I didn't intend to argue. Perhaps for the sake of our readers, Gilbert, you might please explain just what it is that you do mean by `good software'?
Dawson: Sure, I'd be glad to. Everything I'm about to say, though, is clearly explained on the Good Software Group's website, including just exactly what we mean when we say `Good Software'. I don't always have time to explain just what a good is to everyone the GSG comes in contact with. I wish when they heard about Good Software - which is admittedly a slightly ambiguous abbreviation for a much more elaborate concept - that they would look at our website, or at the very least, pick up a dictionary. Words mean different things to different people and in different contexts. In my case, a word means just exactly what I say it means, and if people care about what I say it means, they should visit my website.
Hired: Um, and what does it mean?
Dawson: Oh right. It's so simple a child could understand it. Good Software is software that is made for the express purpose of facilitating the exchange of any sort of good or service for the sake of any kind of commerce or trade.
Hired: And why did you form the Good Software Group?
Dawson: I'm really glad you asked that. I founded the GSG because at the time, our nation's E-conomy [The editors believe that the interviewee was referring to `electronic economy', but in retrospect, it's unclear. --Hired] was in serious straits, and I thought that a lot of the problem stemmed from wasted programming effort that did not produce Good Software. When programmers waste all their nights creating fritterware and useless eye candy, they are not actually producing anything. And without a tangible good for consumers to beg, barter, or steal, not only our E-conomy but also our economy stagnate. Think of the innumerable hours wasted on writing screen-savers. Where are the goods that come of that? Everything is just bits; nothing is tangible. If you're not writing Good Software, your effort has been lost to all of mankind, because you've made nothing.
Hired: Is that why you created the the GPL?
Dawson: Yes, that's exactly why I created the Good-Software Permanent License. The GPL is a way to use copyright law to make absolutely sure that the next bit of oh, I don't know, maybe manufacturing software, for example, can't ever be turned into something non-Good like a screen-saver. You really should go read about the GPL on our website, but what it amounts to is that Good Software can never be subverted into non-Good Software. That way any fixes or changes won't be lost forever to the business community that created the Good Software in the first place. By making sure that all effort on Good Software produces more Good Software, we as a people, a nation, an entire planet all benefit as commerce and trade continue to grow.
Hired: Do you feel that the Good Software Group is neglected when the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal mentions E-commerce but doesn't talk about how important Good Software and the GSG in particular have been to it?
Dawson: I don't care for the word `E-commerce', and you've put your finger on exactly why. It disrespects how important we are. Don't you realize that without Good Software, the E-conomy would be nowhere? It's the very foundation of the entire system! Oh, there isn't always a lot of our stuff there, but we were the guiding light behind it all. That's why I insist upon the term `Good/E-commerce' instead. However, if you really find that difficult, I shall permit you to use the term `E/Good-Commerce' in my presence as a tolerable but not a preferable alternative. The reason I don't care for it as much is that you've placed the Good part too far back, even though I really started it all. At least you give the GSG some credit that way, though.
Hired: I'm sorry - I'll try to more careful from now on. I'd like to thank you for this interview. I'm sure that this will clarify for our readers your role in the goodware movement--
Dawson: Stop right there! I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the so-called `goodware' movement. I am the founding father of `Good Software' movement, which is completely different. `Goodware' is the despicable term used by a sham libertarian outfit who's trying to reach out to the not-for-profit community. When they say `goodware', they just mean software that's not bad. Can you believe it? Do you realize that they actually support letting people take what was originally Good Software and convert it into something that will never be used for one single good or service? That no longer will money change hands? Why, if everyone did that, our whole country would fall apart! That's not Good Software, and I shall have nothing to do with them. Fortunately, the GPL prohibits them from doing that with GPL'd software, which is why I strongly advocate slapping the GPL on every bit of software you can. It's the only way to keep those gun-toting libertarians off our backs and to keep our nation's E-conomy strong! By using the GPL to make Permanently Good Software!
Hired: You know, Gilbert, if you were to legally change your name to add a second middle name like `Outspoken', then your initials would be a lot more meaningful for mail. Not only could you get mail sent to [email protected], but you could make your login a trademark to protect your unique use of the term `GOOD SOFTWARE'.
Dawson: That's an intriguing idea - it would certainly help me in my current linguistic battles with those pesky language-lawyers which the liberatian goodware people keep throwing up at me when I tell them they can't say `goodware' because I have prior art in using my own personal standard definition of `good'.

But I'd really have to keep the old mail alias. For some reason, folks tend to put more weight into my writings under the current login. And it makes me feel good-er, I mean, important.