[sword-devel] Open Content Creation

Bryan L. Fordham sword-devel@crosswire.org
Mon, 05 Feb 2001 00:58:02 -0500

Paul Gear wrote:
> "Bryan L. Fordham" wrote:
> >
> > Paul Gear wrote:
> > [snip]
> > > > The obvious flaw is I download the code and do whatever I wish,
> > > > neatly nullifying all that hard work on a doctrinal statement.
> > >
> > > Not really.  CrossWire can trademark the product names and require
> > > permission from people to use them.
> > >
> > > You can still have 'free software branding' - that's exactly what
> > > AbiSource <http://www.abisource.com> and Ximian (formerly HelixCode
> > > <http://www.ximian.com>) have done.  You can do whatever you want with
> > > the code, but if you want to release a product based on it, you have
> > > to a) have their permission, or b) call it something else.
> > >
> > > Thus, we could trademark certain names (like "The Sword Project" and
> > > "CrossWire Bible Society"), and have an icon that only approved
> > > software can use.
> >
> > Hadn't thought of that, though I'm familiar with it because of
> > AbiSource.  I don't see what it would solve, though perhaps we're not
> > talking about the same thing.  I'm addressing the problem of folks using
> > Sword for non-Christian purposes, perhaps you mean just keeping certain
> > things out of the official distribution?  Or at least, if they're
> > included, being in a different category than standard Christian works.
> >
> > Seems to me that's all branding would do.  I could still do whatever I
> > wished with the product, just under a different name.  Doesn't seem to
> > answer the larger issue but, again, maybe you and I are talking about
> > two different things.
> I meant the latter.  If we are still to be GPL (which i think we
> should), we cannot tell people what they are allowed to use the software
> for.  However, we could make it clear what we *do* want them to use it
> for by only providing those modules which are 'approved' on the main
> site.
> I'm still not sure whether this is a good idea, though.  I'm merely
> pointing out that it could be done.
> > ...
> > > My understanding of what Darwin was getting at is that with Christian
> > > software, software development is a ministry, and therefore it is just
> > > as important that the developers be doctrinally pure as those who
> > > create modules.  Thus, getting out of the module business doesn't
> > > solve anything.  (Not to mention that it becomes a pain for end users
> > > who want to download the whole shebang at once.
> > ...
> > I'm a bit confused about the statement that developers should be
> > doctrinally pure, though.
> >
> > I understand what the statement means, I'm confused on its application.
> > If I was an atheist and programmed a huge section of Sword (software
> > only, not content) it wouldn't be included?  I'm certainly not accusing
> > anyone of close-mindedness or anything equally silly; it just seems odd
> > to me.  Again, I understand and agree with you to an large extent.  But
> > there is a difference between software and the content it is presenting.
> My point is: _why_ is there a difference between software and its
> content?  If they are both a ministry, how is the software less
> "sanctified" than the content?  Cannot God set apart his people for the
> ministry of software development, just as he sets apart others for
> teaching or evangelism?  It seems to me that we are far too ready to
> compartmentalise things that can and probably should be connected.  

I have no doubt that software can be a ministry.  Part of my personal
ministry is helping with a web page for my church, and I take it just as
seriously as sermons I prepare and deliver.  And, given a choice, I
would prefer a Christian developer to a non-Christian one.  So don't
misunderstand what I'm saying, I'm not attempting to dismiss valid

But I do see a difference between the software and the content.  While I
think it is essential that the content by Christian or, if it's not, at
least be labelled properly, I do not think it essential for the software
to be "Christian" or, more accurately, developed by Christians.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this.  I'm preparing some
stuff for my website; maybe I'll write up my thoughts on this and you
can respond and tell me how wrong I am 8)

I think Philippians 1:12-18 is a good passage on this.  The end result
is that Christ is preached.

> In theory, i disagree, as noted above.  I see no need to distinguish
> between the work of producing software and that of producing content.
> In practice, i'm with you: i don't know what can/should be done about
> it.
> > ...
> > I just went to the crosswire site and read the purpose statement of the
> > Sword project.  At the end:
> >
> > > There are many modularized components of this project, each with their
> > > own group leader/s. Each leader is free to take the direction that
> > > they see fit to accomplish the goals of the concurred design, being
> > > held accountable only to fellow developers, users, and of course God
> > > ;) (that should put a sense of responsibility in all of you! :)
> > > Startup efforts and this homepage are organized by Scribe, who may
> > > happen to be a group leader of a few of the core components, but should
> > > in no way be seen (or wishes to be seen) as the overall manager/owner
> > > of this project. This is a collaboration of the masses-- many parts of
> > > a body working together for a common purpose (wow, what an analogy :)!
> >
> > That's the whole thing, I think.  If it's decentralized there's no way
> > to control it.
> But the defining context is "a body working together for a common
> purpose".  If we are not really a body, how can we be working together?

There's no dispute, at least from me, that the developers are a body. 
The question, I think, is "What is the purpose?"  And I do not believe
it will be easy to define that purpose; or rather, not easy to *enforce*
that purpose to the extent required to keep the content "in its place"
(if you'll forgive the expression).

In my opinion, theories are fine as long as you're not dealing with real
issues.  Again, I'm like you in not knowing the perfect route from
this.  And, of course, it's not my place to dictate even if I knew.

*shrug*  I dunno.