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The Industry choice

>From technical point of view, I could not understand the the reasoning
behind using Java in major companies. Sure that Python, is used in
some, but still Java is considered as a sure-job language.

After being a python programmer for long time, I consider it painful to
learn/use Java now (well, like many I will be forced to do that in my
job).

What makes such companies to choose Java over dynamic, productive
languages like Python? Are there any viable, technical reasons for
that?

Jul 18 '05
198 6726
In article <41***********************@ptn-nntp-reader01.plus.net>,
Mark Carter <mc*********@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
.
.
.
Don't start me! Dammit, too late ...
....
Honestly, I thought (real) engineers were supposed to be clever.


You might want to read this:

http://alistair.cockburn.us/crystal/...ngineering.htm

His thesis is very simple: engineering took a wrong turn after
WW II, and the people who coined the term "software engineering"
didn't have a clue.

Of course, he puts it a bit more diplomatically, but he's
got the data to demonstrate that software engineering
is an oxymoron.

John Roth

Jul 18 '05 #101
Terry Reedy wrote:
"Steve Holden" <st***@holdenweb.com> wrote in message
news:_rTBd.66275$Jk5.46@lakeread01...
Well clearly there's a spectrum. However, I have previously written that
the number of open source projects that appear to get stuck somewhere
between release 0.1 and release 0.9 is amazingly large, and does imply
some dissipation of effort.

And how do the failure and effort dissipation rates of open source code
compare to those of closed source code? Of course, we have only anecdotal
evidence that the latter is also 'amazingly large'. And, to be fair, the
latter should include the one-programmer proprietary projects that
correspond to the one-programmer open projects.

Also, what is 'amazing' to one depends on one's expectations ;-). It is
known, for instance, that some large fraction of visible retail business
fail within a year. And that natural selection is based on that fact that
failure is normal.

Well, since everything you say is true, I suppose there's not much
wriggle room for me.

But when a shop goes belly up, it's most often replaced by another
business in fairy short order, and proprietary project failures are
usually hushed up by firing the programmers and promoting the managers.

Whereas the bleached bones of the failed open source projects are
visible for all to see on the SourceForge beach.

regards
Steve
--
Steve Holden http://www.holdenweb.com/
Python Web Programming http://pydish.holdenweb.com/
Holden Web LLC +1 703 861 4237 +1 800 494 3119
Jul 18 '05 #102
Aahz wrote:
In article <xuTBd.66280$Jk5.42292@lakeread01>,
Steve Holden <st***@holdenweb.com> wrote:
Aahz wrote:
In article <7x************@ruckus.brouhaha.com>,
Paul Rubin <http://ph****@NOSPAM.invalid> wrote:

I was pretty skeptical of Java's checked exceptions when I first used
them but have been coming around about them. There's just been too
many times when I wrote something in Python that crashed because some
lower-level function raised an exception that the upper level hadn't
been expecting, after the program had been in use for a while. I'd
sure rather find out about that at compile time.

That's funny -- Bruce Eckel talks about how he used to love checked
exceptions but has come to regard them as the horror that they are.
I've learned to just write "throws Exception" at the declaration of
every method.


Pretty sloppy, though, no? And surely the important thing is to have a
broad handler, not a broad specification of raisable exceptions?

Yes, it's sloppy, but I Don't Care. I'm trying to write usable code
while learning a damnably under-documented Java library -- and I'm *not*
a Java programmer in the first place, so I'm also fighting with the Java
environment. Eventually I'll add in some better code.


The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

regards
Steve
--
Steve Holden http://www.holdenweb.com/
Python Web Programming http://pydish.holdenweb.com/
Holden Web LLC +1 703 861 4237 +1 800 494 3119
Jul 18 '05 #103
Steve Holden wrote:
Aahz wrote:
In article <xuTBd.66280$Jk5.42292@lakeread01>,
Steve Holden <st***@holdenweb.com> wrote:
Aahz wrote:
In article <7x************@ruckus.brouhaha.com>,
Paul Rubin <http://ph****@NOSPAM.invalid> wrote:

> I was pretty skeptical of Java's checked exceptions when I first used
> them but have been coming around about them. [...]

That's funny -- Bruce Eckel talks about how he used to love checked
exceptions but has come to regard them as the horror that they are.
I've learned to just write "throws Exception" at the declaration of
every method.

Pretty sloppy, though, no? And surely the important thing is to have
a broad handler, not a broad specification of raisable exceptions?


Yes, it's sloppy, but I Don't Care. I'm trying to write usable code
while learning a damnably under-documented Java library -- and I'm *not*
a Java programmer in the first place, so I'm also fighting with the Java
environment. Eventually I'll add in some better code.


The road to hell is paved with good intentions.


Hmm ... those must be what my bucket keeps bumping over! :)

Steve W.
Jul 18 '05 #104
In article <ImhCd.67875$Jk5.12637@lakeread01>,
Steve Holden <st***@holdenweb.com> wrote:
Aahz wrote:
In article <xuTBd.66280$Jk5.42292@lakeread01>,
Steve Holden <st***@holdenweb.com> wrote:
Aahz wrote:

That's funny -- Bruce Eckel talks about how he used to love checked
exceptions but has come to regard them as the horror that they are.
I've learned to just write "throws Exception" at the declaration of
every method.

Pretty sloppy, though, no? And surely the important thing is to have a
broad handler, not a broad specification of raisable exceptions?


Yes, it's sloppy, but I Don't Care. I'm trying to write usable code
while learning a damnably under-documented Java library -- and I'm *not*
a Java programmer in the first place, so I'm also fighting with the Java
environment. Eventually I'll add in some better code.


The road to hell is paved with good intentions.


So's the road to unfinished software projects. The question, as always,
becomes how best to balance the competing requirements and resources.
--
Aahz (aa**@pythoncraft.com) <*> http://www.pythoncraft.com/

"19. A language that doesn't affect the way you think about programming,
is not worth knowing." --Alan Perlis
Jul 18 '05 #105
Steve Holden wrote:
Whereas the bleached bones of the failed open source projects are
visible for all to see on the SourceForge beach.


It occurs to me that the value of those projects can be judged
in a number of ways. One of them is in how much those involved
in the projects have learned from the experience. Perhaps one
rarely starts a second open source project with quite as much
rabid, unthinking enthusiasm as one did the first time around,
and maybe the world is a better place for it.

I know that I've started many one-man projects over the years,
and only slowly (I'm a little thick, you see) came to realize
that while it's incredibly easy to start something, seeing it
through to the end is rather more difficult.

At this point, perhaps largely as a result of a new world-view
inspired by the agile movement, I rarely start anything...
and when I do, it's driven by a strong, recurring need, and I
only do just enough to meet that need, in the simplest way
I can find. (Often, that ends up not involving a computer.)

-Peter
Jul 18 '05 #106
Cameron Laird wrote:
I've seen the infatuation for Excel (and so on) for years, but
never found it at all tempting myself. I mostly just ignore the
issue--no, actually, I guess I give them Excel, but show at the
same time that they really want the alternative views that I
also provide.


See http://www.burns-stat.com/pages/Tuto...addiction.html for
a thoughtful essay by a statistician on this affliction. I think that
Python would be an excellent addition to his Treatment Centre pharmacopoeia.

Tim C
Jul 18 '05 #107
> Theoretically. Because even though the source code is available
and free (like in beer as well as in speech) the work of
programmers isn't cheap.

This "free software" (not so much OSS) notion "but you can
hire programmers to fix it" doesn't really happen in practice,
at least not frequently: because this company/guy remains
ALONE with this technology, the costs are unacceptable.
This certainly is the thinking, but I is the wrong thinking in many cases.
If companies could some how take a larger view and realize that by working
together here and there -- they enable and open development model which in
the end saves them money. AHHH but that's such a hard argument because it
takes vision, time, and trust.

It takes a whole vision change to work in this environment -- believing in
an economy of plenty rather than an economy of scarcity.
It depends on definition of "rational", on definition of your or
company's goals and on the definitions of the situations that
are the context.


I work for a very large company -- there is an internal culture that
defines what "rational" is: (a) Rational means outsourcing and doing less
inside the company, (b) pretty much single sourcing commerical software,
(c) releasing nothing outside the company unless there is a direct
demonstratable significant business benifit related to our core products.

I could argue these are not rational in the long run, but this is
the direction of the company as far as I know. This will change -- and
someone will get a big promotion for doing it -- but it will take a lot of
time. And of course someone already got a big promotion for outsourcing
and developing the single source stratagy -- bone headed as it is.

Rob
Jul 18 '05 #108
Alex Martelli commented:

It's not just _foreign_ companies -- regional clustering of all kinds
of
business activities is a much more widespread phenomenon. Although I'm
not sure he was the first to research the subject, Tjalling Koopmans,
as
part of his lifework on normative economics for which he won the Nobel
Prize 30 years ago, published a crucial essay on the subject about 50
years ago (sorry, can't recall the exact date!) focusing on
_indivisibilities_, leading for example to transportation costs, and to
increasing returns with increasing scale. Today, Paul Krugman is
probably the best-known name in this specific field (he's also a
well-known popularizer and polemist, but his specifically-scientific
work in economics has mostly remained in this field).
China right now)? According to standard economics it should
not happen - what's the point of getting into this overpriced
city if elsewhere in this country you can find just as good
conditions for business.


Because you can't. "Standard" economics, in the sense of what you
might
have studied in college 25 years ago if that was your major, is quite
able to account for that if you treat spatial variables as exogenous to
the model; Krugman's breakthroughs (and most following work, from what
I
can tell -- but economics is just a hobby for me, so I hardly have time
to keep up with the literature, sigh!) have to do with making them
endogenous.

Exogenous is fine if you're looking at the decision a single firm, the
N+1 - th to set up shop in (say) a city, faces, given decisions already
taken by other N firms in the same sector.

The firm's production processes have inputs and outputs, coming from
other firms and (generally, with the exception of the last "layer" of
retailers etc) going to other firms. Say that the main potential
buyers
for your firm's products are firms X, Y and Z, whose locations all
"happen to be" (that's the "exogenous" part) in the Q quarter of town.
So, all your competitors have their locations in or near Q, too. Where
are you going to set up your location? Rents are higher in Q than
somewhere out in the boondocks -- but being in Q has obvious
advantages:
your salespeople will be very well-placed to shuttle between X, Y, Z
and
your offices, often with your designers along so they can impress the
buyers or get their specs for competitive bidding, etc, etc. At some
points, the competition for rents in quarter Q will start driving some
experimenters elsewhere, but they may not necessarily thrive in those
other locations. If, whatever industry you're in, you can strongly
benefit from working closely with customers, then quarter Q will be
where many firms making the same products end up (supply-side
clustering).

Now consider a new company Z set up to compete with X, Y and Z. Where
will THEY set up shop? Quarter Q has the strong advantage of offering
many experienced suppliers nearby -- and in many industries there are
benefits in working closely with suppliers, too (even just to easily
have them compete hard for your business...). So, there are easily
appreciated exogenous models to explain demand-side clustering, too.

That's how you end up with a Holliwood, a Silicon Valley, a Milan (for
high-quality fashion and industrial design), even, say, on a lesser
scale, a Valenza Po or an Arezzo for jewelry. Ancient European cities
offer a zillion examples, with streets and quarters named after the
trades or professions that were most clustered there -- of course,
there
are many other auxiliary factors related to the fact that people often
_like_ to associate with others of the same trade (according to Adam
Smith, generally to plot some damage to the general public;-), but
supply-side and demand-side, at least for a simpler exogenous model,
are
plenty.

Say that it's the 18th century (after the corporations' power to stop
"foreign" competition from nearby towns had basically waned), you're a
hat-maker from Firenze, and for whatever reason you need to move
yourself and your business to Bologna. If all the best hat-makers'
workshops and shops are clustered around Piazza dell'Orologio, where
are
YOU going to set up shop? Rents in that piazza are high, BUT - that's
where people who want to buy new hats will come strolling to look at
the
displays, compare prices, and generally shop. That's close to where
felt-makers are, since they sell to other hat-makers. Should your
business soon flourish, so you'll need to hire a worker, that's where
you can soon meet all the local workers, relaxing with a glass of wine
at the local osteria after work, and start getting acquainted with
everybody, etc, etc...

Right, and distribution in general is "clumpy"; i.e. one doesn't find the spatial distribution of people to be uniform (unless at saturation!)

I'm decades behind on economics research, but I remember modeling clustering based on mass and distance (the gravity model). On a decision making basis there seems to be an aspect of it that is binary: (0) either give in to gravity and gain shared advantage as part of a massive object, or (1) choose an alternate "location" far enough away not to be much affected by the force of the massive objects, and try to build "mass" there. I suspect Python is a (1) in that regard, but I may be wrong.
Gravity as a model of technology adoption appeals to me as I've been thinking about cosmology a fair bit, and I have grave suspicions that much of theuniverse's dark (and green) matter is in Redmond.


Eric Pederson
http://www.songzilla.blogspot.com
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
domainNot="@something.com"
domainIs=domainNot.replace("s","z")
ePrefix="".join([chr(ord(x)+1) for x in "do"])
mailMeAt=ePrefix+domainIs
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Jul 18 '05 #109
Cameron Laird wrote:
I've seen the infatuation for Excel (and so on) for years,


True story: when I began working for my current employer, there was a
guy there doing some work with a spreadsheet. He was given two weeks to
perform the task. It was a loss-leader to get some real work from the
client.

There already existed a spreadsheet, which did financial projections. It
used VBA fairly extensively, and his task was to adapt it to remove the
VBA code. This means converting things like functions into equivalent
cell formulae. The rationale behind this is that VBA is too hard for
most people to understand, whereas formulae are easier to understand.
Conditionals look really confusing in formulae, and I don't know how he
coped with loops. And then, of course, you have to replicate them to
every cell that requires them. Can you imagine that? Is this very the
definition of madness, or what?

The whole thing was a gigantic spreadsheet (I can't remember, it was
either 9Mb or 90Mb in size), and kept crashing every few minutes. Utter
utter insanity. Whenever he went back the client, she demanded
improvements. We had effectively told her that she could have whatever
whe wanted. And oh, it would only take 2 weeks. The managers never
pulled the plug on the project.

Apparently, our guy sat in on a conversation that the client had with a
potential contractor who would replace the spreadsheet. His first
question was, surprise surprise, "why on earth did you try to do it that
way?"

The thing is, our guy was scheduled to be booted out the door because he
was in a business area that was being discontinued by us, so from my
employer's point-of-view, I guess that all this lunacy actually made sense.
Jul 18 '05 #110
But then I have THREE published recipes!!
Does that mean that I get three free copies of the cookbook ? ;-)
Michele

Jul 18 '05 #111
Alex Martelli wrote:
Roy Smith <ro*@panix.com> wrote:

Stefan Axelsson <cr******@hotmail.com> wrote:
Yes, ignoring most of the debate about static vs. dynamic typing, I've
also longed for 'use strict'.


You can use __slots__ to get the effect you're after. Well, sort of; it
only works for instance variables, not locals. And the gurus will argue
that __slots__ wasn't intended for that, so you shouldn't do it.

There's a simple, excellent recipe by Michele Simionato, on both the
online and forthcoming 2nd edition printed Cookbook, showing how to do
that the right way -- with __setattr__ -- rather than with __slots__ .


The recipe is here (it took me a few minutes to find it, I found the title misleading):
http://aspn.activestate.com/ASPN/Coo.../Recipe/252158

Kent
Jul 18 '05 #112
In article <41*********************@ptn-nntp-reader03.plus.net>,
Mark Carter <mc*********@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
Jul 18 '05 #113
;; This buffer is for notes you don't want to save, and for Lisp evaluation.
;; If you want to create a file, first visit that file with C-x C-f,
;; then enter the text in that file's own buffer.

Cameron Laird wrote:
Well *that* certainly made my morning unpleasant.


Then let's see if I can spoil you afternoon, too ...

I was working on a project (that used Excel, alas) that checked the
daily allocation of oil and gas. The calculations were very complicated,
and liable to error. I thought it would be a good idea if I serialised
intermediate calculations so they could be checked. My solution was to
save them as a CSV file, with array name in the first column, index
variables in subsequent columns, and array value in the last column.
That way, they could be checked manually. The standard approach at my
company would have been to create honking big spreadsheets to house
these values.

Anyway, time went on, it was decided that these daily calculations
needed to be aggregated to monthly values. Well, it turned out that the
solution I had adopted was quite good, because one could just suck the
file in, read off the relevant variables, and populate an array. To be
compared with what would normally happen of creating a nexus of links to
a disk-busting collection of spreadsheets.

I shall have my revenge, though. The file serve hierarchy that we have
is very complicated, and is due for simplification in the very near
future. So all those peeps who did spreadsheets, with hard links to
other spreadsheets, are in for a bit of a surprise. I think the I-Ching
expressed it better than I ever could:
The bird's nest burns up.
The wanderer laughs at first,
Then must needs lament and weep.
Through carelessness he loses his cow.
Misfortune.

Source:
http://www.eclecticenergies.com/ichi...gram.php?nr=56

I'm thinking that the I-Ching is a vast untapped resource for
programming wisdom, plus it makes it funny. Or haikus, maybe they'd be
good.
Jul 18 '05 #114
In article <87************@hector.domek>,
Peter Dembinski <pd***@illx.org> wrote:
Jul 18 '05 #115
In article <q6********************************@4ax.com>,
Alan Gauld <al********@btinternet.com> wrote:
On Sat, 01 Jan 2005 16:08:07 GMT, cl****@lairds.us (Cameron
Laird) wrote:
I argue that it's a false opposition to categorize projects in
terms of use of single languages. Many projects are MUCH better
off with a mix


In practice I have *never* worked on an industrial scale project
that only used one language. The nearest I came was a small
protocol convertor that only used C, SQL and some shell and
awk - but that's still 4 languages! And the whole project was
only 40,000 lines of code in about 20 files.

And most projects use many more, I'd guess around 5-8 on an
"average project" of around 300-500kloc. The biggest project I
worked on had about 3.5Mloc and used:

Assembler (680x0 and Sparc),
C
C++
Lisp(Flavors)
awk
Bourne shell
C shell - this was a mistake discovered too late to "fix"
PL/SQL
???? - A UI description language for a tool called TeleUse...
Pascal - No, I don't know why...
ASN.1 - with a commercial compiler

We also had some IDL but since it was tool generated I'll ignore
it...

We also had an experimental version running on a NeXt box so it
used Objective C for the UI instead of ???? and C++...

A total of 13 languages... with 5 geographically dispersed teams
comprising a total of 200 developers (plus about 40 testers).
Interesting times...in the Chinese sense!

Jul 18 '05 #116
<mi***************@gmail.com> wrote:
But then I have THREE published recipes!!
Does that mean that I get three free copies of the cookbook ? ;-)


....ti piacerebbe eh...?-) Sorry, "one each", even though you have
_five_ credits. For the curious, here's the roster of most credited
contributors (remember, significant comments we merged into other's
recipes also count!-)...:

1: 42 u'Alex Martelli'
2: 26 u'Raymond Hettinger'
3: 25 u'Luther Blissett'
4: 22 u'Peter Cogolo'
5: 10 u'John Nielsen'
6: 10 u'Anna Martelli Ravenscroft'
7: 8 u'J\x9frgen Hermann'
8: 7 u'Scott David Daniels'
9: 7 u'Chris Perkins'
10: 6 u'S\x8ebastien Keim'
11: 6 u'Paul Prescod'
12: 6 u'Noah Spurrier'
13: 6 u'Jeff Bauer'
14: 6 u'Holger Krekel'
15: 6 u'Danny Yoo'
16: 6 u'Brent Burley'
17: 5 u'Paul Moore'
18: 5 u'Michele Simionato'
19: 5 u'Mark Nenadov'
20: 5 u'David Eppstein'
21: 5 u'Brian Quinlan'

If you wished to count only _authored_ recipes (but that's a bit
misleading, since in several recipes-as-published there is a merge of
two or three separately submitted and accepted recipes, and here I'm
counting only the first-listed-author per published-recipe...):

1: 25 u'Luther Blissett'
2: 21 u'Alex Martelli'
3: 9 u'John Nielsen'
4: 8 u'Raymond Hettinger'
5: 8 u'J\x9frgen Hermann'
6: 6 u'S\x8ebastien Keim'
7: 6 u'Peter Cogolo'
8: 6 u'Anna Martelli Ravenscroft'
9: 5 u'Scott David Daniels'
10: 5 u'Paul Prescod'
11: 5 u'Michele Simionato'
12: 5 u'Mark Nenadov'
13: 5 u'Jeff Bauer'
14: 5 u'Brent Burley'

....but each still gets ONE free copy...!-)
Alex
Jul 18 '05 #117
Mark Carter wrote:
I'm thinking that the I-Ching is a vast untapped resource for
programming wisdom, plus it makes it funny.


Well, carrying on in the same frivilous and some might say off-topic
mood, I did a bit of a Google, and found that you can generate your very
own I-Ching reading:
http://www.grillet.co.uk/iching/

According to the link at:
http://www.grillet.co.uk/iching/casting.html
"The I Ching is a good guide in taking decisions when you have no
rational basis on which to take them." So if your project manager comes
out with something like "A pot upturned to empty the decay. The superior
one attends to the Way of Heaven.", you'll know whence he's distilling
his madness.
Jul 18 '05 #118
Do contributors of less than 5 recipes get a copy too? :-?

Btw, is there a comprehensive list of ALL contributors put up anywhere?

On Tue, 4 Jan 2005 17:15:53 +0100, Alex Martelli <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote:
<mi***************@gmail.com> wrote:
But then I have THREE published recipes!!
Does that mean that I get three free copies of the cookbook ? ;-)


...ti piacerebbe eh...?-) Sorry, "one each", even though you have
_five_ credits. For the curious, here's the roster of most credited
contributors (remember, significant comments we merged into other's
recipes also count!-)...:

1: 42 u'Alex Martelli'
2: 26 u'Raymond Hettinger'
3: 25 u'Luther Blissett'
4: 22 u'Peter Cogolo'
5: 10 u'John Nielsen'
6: 10 u'Anna Martelli Ravenscroft'
7: 8 u'J\x9frgen Hermann'
8: 7 u'Scott David Daniels'
9: 7 u'Chris Perkins'
10: 6 u'S\x8ebastien Keim'
11: 6 u'Paul Prescod'
12: 6 u'Noah Spurrier'
13: 6 u'Jeff Bauer'
14: 6 u'Holger Krekel'
15: 6 u'Danny Yoo'
16: 6 u'Brent Burley'
17: 5 u'Paul Moore'
18: 5 u'Michele Simionato'
19: 5 u'Mark Nenadov'
20: 5 u'David Eppstein'
21: 5 u'Brian Quinlan'

If you wished to count only _authored_ recipes (but that's a bit
misleading, since in several recipes-as-published there is a merge of
two or three separately submitted and accepted recipes, and here I'm
counting only the first-listed-author per published-recipe...):

1: 25 u'Luther Blissett'
2: 21 u'Alex Martelli'
3: 9 u'John Nielsen'
4: 8 u'Raymond Hettinger'
5: 8 u'J\x9frgen Hermann'
6: 6 u'S\x8ebastien Keim'
7: 6 u'Peter Cogolo'
8: 6 u'Anna Martelli Ravenscroft'
9: 5 u'Scott David Daniels'
10: 5 u'Paul Prescod'
11: 5 u'Michele Simionato'
12: 5 u'Mark Nenadov'
13: 5 u'Jeff Bauer'
14: 5 u'Brent Burley'

...but each still gets ONE free copy...!-)

Alex
--
http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list

--
Premshree Pillai
http://www.livejournal.com/~premshree
Jul 18 '05 #119
On Tue, 04 Jan 2005 15:52:03 +0000, Mark Carter wrote:
;; This buffer is for notes you don't want to save, and for Lisp evaluation.
;; If you want to create a file, first visit that file with C-x C-f,
;; then enter the text in that file's own buffer.
Now, _where_ have I seen that before?
I'm thinking that the I-Ching is a vast untapped resource for
programming wisdom, plus it makes it funny. Or haikus, maybe they'd be
good.


If only all error messages were like that:

Through winter's freezing
Nature dies to live again
You need to debug

--
Christopher

99 bottles of Snakebite on the wall...
Jul 18 '05 #120
On Tue, 04 Jan 2005 15:52:03 +0000, Mark Carter <mc*********@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
I'm thinking that the I-Ching is a vast untapped resource for
programming wisdom, plus it makes it funny.


LOL! +1 QOTW!
--
Carlos Ribeiro
Consultoria em Projetos
blog: http://rascunhosrotos.blogspot.com
blog: http://pythonnotes.blogspot.com
mail: ca********@gmail.com
mail: ca********@yahoo.com
Jul 18 '05 #121
On Mon, 3 Jan 2005 00:08:25 +0100, al*****@yahoo.com (Alex Martelli)
wrote:
True. I have a bit of interest in economics, so I've seen e.g.
this example - why is it that foreign branches of companies
tend to cluster themselves in one city or country (e.g.
It's not just _foreign_ companies -- regional clustering of all kinds of
business activities is a much more widespread phenomenon.
First, even though I disagree with you in places, thanks for
this reply - it enhanced my knowledge of the topic in some
places.
Re the foreign/domestic companies: I have observed this what I call
"irrational clustering" esp. re foreign companies here.
Exogenous is fine if you're looking at the decision a single firm, the
N+1 - th to set up shop in (say) a city, faces, given decisions already
taken by other N firms in the same sector. The firm's production processes have inputs and outputs, coming from
other firms and (generally, with the exception of the last "layer" of
retailers etc) going to other firms. Say that the main potential buyers
for your firm's products are firms X, Y and Z, whose locations all
"happen to be" (that's the "exogenous" part) in the Q quarter of town.
So, all your competitors have their locations in or near Q, too. Where
are you going to set up your location? Rents are higher in Q than
somewhere out in the boondocks -- but being in Q has obvious advantages:
your salespeople will be very well-placed to shuttle between X, Y, Z and
your offices, often with your designers along so they can impress the
buyers or get their specs for competitive bidding, etc, etc.
What you wrote regards especially strong the industries you pointed
at: fashion, jewellery, esp. I think in those industries those factors
may be decisive. When this street is renown in the city to have
"good jewellers" located there, the choice for a new jeweller in this
city is almost like this: get located there or die.

However, I'd argue that industries with those kinds of dependencies
are actually pretty rare.
At some
points, the competition for rents in quarter Q will start driving some
experimenters elsewhere, but they may not necessarily thrive in those
other locations. If, whatever industry you're in, you can strongly
benefit from working closely with customers, then quarter Q will be
where many firms making the same products end up (supply-side
clustering). Now consider a new company Z set up to compete with X, Y and Z. Where
will THEY set up shop? Quarter Q has the strong advantage of offering
many experienced suppliers nearby -- and in many industries there are
benefits in working closely with suppliers, too (even just to easily
have them compete hard for your business...).
I grant that this model is neat and intuitive - but I'd argue it is
not very adequate to real world. Read on.
So, there are easily
appreciated exogenous models to explain demand-side clustering, too. That's how you end up with a Holliwood, a Silicon Valley, a Milan (for
high-quality fashion and industrial design), even, say, on a lesser
scale, a Valenza Po or an Arezzo for jewelry. Ancient European cities
offer a zillion examples, with streets and quarters named after the
trades or professions that were most clustered there -- of course, there
are many other auxiliary factors related to the fact that people often
_like_ to associate with others of the same trade (according to Adam
Smith, generally to plot some damage to the general public;-), but
supply-side and demand-side, at least for a simpler exogenous model, are
plenty. Say that it's the 18th century (after the corporations' power to stop
"foreign" competition from nearby towns had basically waned), you're a
hat-maker from Firenze, and for whatever reason you need to move
yourself and your business to Bologna. If all the best hat-makers'
workshops and shops are clustered around Piazza dell'Orologio, where are
YOU going to set up shop? Rents in that piazza are high, BUT - that's
where people who want to buy new hats will come strolling to look at the
displays, compare prices, and generally shop.
That will only be true if the hats from Piazza dell'Orologio are much
better than elsewhere.

If the quality and prices of products converged, the gain for the
customers to go there isn't high. And the prices for customers
have to be higher, as the high rents drive some suppliers out,
so the supply of hats is lower, ergo customer prices are higher.
That's close to where
felt-makers are, since they sell to other hat-makers. Should your
business soon flourish, so you'll need to hire a worker, that's where
you can soon meet all the local workers, relaxing with a glass of wine
at the local osteria after work, and start getting acquainted with
everybody, etc, etc...
That is true in the model. However, I don't find it very true
in practice in a lot of industries:

- "physical proximity" in this city very often means navigating
through jammed roads, so the transportation costs in terms of
time and money may very well increase rather than decrease by
locating "in a cluster", even though physical distance may
be smaller. physical distance != temporal distance & a cost
of getting there.

- since everything is more expensive, so is labor; even
if you pay this worker a little bit less elsewhere, he might
find it more attractive to commute shortly to work and
have lower costs of living in a different area, so this very
well may work as a motivation to relocate

- few large businesses nowadays have customers neatly
clustered in one location, they tend to sell countrywide
or worldwide; so the premium for getting into this expensive
place is low and the costs are high

- production nowadays tends to be geographically
distributed as well

- communication costs and transportation costs are DRAMATICALLY
lower nowadays than they used to be (today it costs 1/80 [one
eightieth] to transport a kg of mass using an aircraft in
comparison to what it cost in 1930s; ditto for telecommunication).

Consider real world examples: Microsoft in Redmond or Boeing in
Seattle. Microsoft needs quite a lot of programmers. It would be
rather hard to find enough programmers born and educated in
Redmond, wouldn't it?

Boeing: Seattle?! Why Seattle? Doesn't Boeing sell most of its
new aircrafts in Washington?

AFAIK, in Europe Boeing does much of its production in
cooperation with Alena in Italy. From this viewpoint it really
doesn't matter much if Boeing is located in Seattle or anywhere
else in America really, does it?

Right here (Poland), most of the foreign corporations set up their
call centers in Warsaw, which is totally ridiculous given how
expensive that city is. Oh I can understand setting up a warehouse
by HP there because it's close to its biggest customers. But
I really see no good reason behind HP call center being located in
Warsaw, too, AFAIK (or at least that's the city code when I have
to call them sometimes).

Most of the successful domestic companies I have observed here
have started and still operate in some God-forgotten provincial
towns, where land and labor is cheap and when it comes to
highly skilled professionals, you have to "import" some or all of
them from elsewhere anyway, because not even a big city is
likely to have precisely all the kinds of ultra-specialized
professionals that you may need. And there's less crime, and
shuttling kids to school isn't a nightmare, and the costs of living
are lower. Plus there's less of other things to do, so your workers
tend to focus more on work. :-)
Risk avoidance is quite a secondary issue here (except if you introduce
in your model an aspect of imperfect-information, in which case,
following on the decisions made by locals who may be presumed to have
better information than you is an excellent strategy). Nor is there any
"agency problem" (managers acting for their interests and against the
interest of owners), not a _hint_ of it, in fact -- the hatmaker acting
on his own behalf is perfectly rational and obviously has no agency
problem!).


I find no justification in most of foreign companies setting up their
call centers in a ridiculously overpriced capital city - so from
my viewpoint the risk avoidance is the only explanation that is
left.

Not all corporations do that: in this country Coca-Cola has made
their big "green field" investment almost in the middle of nowhere
in this country. GM, Volkswagen, FIAT, and most of other carmakers
have made similar decisions. Doesn't seem like those were bad business
decisions for them.

The cluster I've seen - an IT "corporate area" in Dublin,
Ireland - was specifically created not due to "natural clustering",
but due to govt policy of tax breaks and preparing good
infrastructure in this place rather than some inter-business and
inter-customer dependencies, since e.g. Microsoft (where the company
sent me for training) neither is able to get all the workers it needs
just from this city, nor it sells mostly to local customers, but it
sells all over Europe.

To me, the issue of manager having to face their superiors
asking him a question - "why on Earth have you decided
to locate our branch in the middle of nowhere in this country?
Why not in capital city? Can't you look at the map? Read some
stats how many inhabitants this city has and what is the
income level there?" is overwhelming: it would take long
time to explain for this manager who e.g. may have already
got his hands dirty in this industry in that country to know
that say, there's little revenue increase to be gained in
locating the facility in capital city, the needed workers are
actually hard to find there, etc.

To me, this is much like decision whether do much of
development in Python or MS VS / VB. "But everybody's
using VisualStudio / VB" is a simple and compelling argument:
"so many people can't be wrong", while explanations that
going Python may actually be better decision in this context
requires long and complex explanations and managers oft can
not even be bothered to read executive summaries.

I feel econ models frequently are elegantly designed
abstractions of elegantly designed problems; the problem
is how close those are to the real-world problems. At
the end of the day, it's "human action" that gets all
of that implemented. I've seen too much resources
going down the drain in completely idiotic projects
and decisions to believe managers are rational beings.
;o)

--

Real world is perfectly indifferent to lies that
are the foundation of leftist "thinking".
Jul 18 '05 #122
On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 17:18:43 -0600, Mike Meyer <mw*@mired.org> wrote:
This "free software" (not so much OSS) notion "but you can
hire programmers to fix it" doesn't really happen in practice,
at least not frequently: because this company/guy remains
ALONE with this technology, the costs are unacceptable.


Yes, but fixing python software - even sloppily written python
software - is pretty easy. I regularly see contracts to add a feature
to or fix a bug in some bit of OSS Python.


That's remarkable, first time I see smth like this - out of curiosity,
could you say a word where was that?
--

Real world is perfectly indifferent to lies that
are the foundation of leftist "thinking".
Jul 18 '05 #123
On Sun, 2 Jan 2005 23:59:53 -0800, "Eric Pederson" <wh****@now.com>
wrote:
I'm decades behind on economics research, but I remember
modeling clustering based on mass and distance (the gravity model).
On a decision making basis there seems to be an aspect of it that is
binary: (0) either give in to gravity and gain shared advantage as
part of a massive object, or (1) choose an alternate "location" far
enough away not to be much affected by the force of the massive
objects, and try to build "mass" there. I suspect Python is a (1) in
that regard, but I may be wrong.


Frankly, I find such models to be built on over-stretched analogies
to physics - how _exactly_ is gravity supposed to be an analogy
equivalent to economic "forces"? Sure such model can be built - but
is it adequate in explaining real-world phenomenons? Analogy
tends to be the weakest form of reasoning. I'd be wary of making
such analogies.

Models like this probably tend to be built by French engineers from
this joke:

The American and French engineers work together on some
product (that would look strange nowadays but it's not impossible
in principle).

The Americans show the French engineers a working prototype.

The French engineers scratch their heads and ask warily:

"OK, it works in practice; but will it work in theory?"

--

Real world is perfectly indifferent to lies that
are the foundation of leftist "thinking".
Jul 18 '05 #124
On Mon, 03 Jan 2005 20:16:35 -0600, "Rob Emmons"
<rm******@member.fsf.org> wrote:
This "free software" (not so much OSS) notion "but you can
hire programmers to fix it" doesn't really happen in practice,
at least not frequently: because this company/guy remains
ALONE with this technology, the costs are unacceptable.
This certainly is the thinking, but I is the wrong thinking in many cases.
If companies could some how take a larger view and realize that by working
together here and there -- they enable and open development model which in
the end saves them money. AHHH but that's such a hard argument because it
takes vision, time, and trust.
But the vision of what? Do we have clear, detailed, unambigous vision
_of the process_ or just big ideological axes to grind? I'm afraid
we're close to the latter situation - even though Python is remarkably
different in this area than the "free software": clean, pragmatic,
effective, free to include in closed-source. If Python were GPLed,
I wouldn't use it: attempting to force people to share doesn't work.
It takes a whole vision change to work in this environment -- believing in
an economy of plenty rather than an economy of scarcity.
Well, I'd say that lack of interchangeability in software is a big
obstacle on this road: not that there's little source code, but
that it's relatively hard (read: expensive) to combine the pieces.

See:

http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/bmc...cs_of_software

IMHO this:

'The problem is that for all of the rhetoric about software becoming a
"commodity", most software is still very much not a commodity: one
software product is rarely completely interchangeable with another.'

....hits the nail on the head.

It depends on definition of "rational", on definition of your or
company's goals and on the definitions of the situations that
are the context.

I work for a very large company -- there is an internal culture that
defines what "rational" is: (a) Rational means outsourcing and doing less
inside the company,
This could be made into a very strong argument for OSS: see the
OSS developers as your "outsourced team" that works for almost
nothing, i.e. "if we want to win them or get them to help, maybe
we should contribute our bugfixes and enhancements to them".
(b) pretty much single sourcing commerical software,
(c) releasing nothing outside the company unless there is a direct
demonstratable significant business benifit related to our core products.
That doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
I could argue these are not rational in the long run, but this is
the direction of the company as far as I know. This will change -- and
someone will get a big promotion for doing it -- but it will take a lot of
time. And of course someone already got a big promotion for outsourcing
and developing the single source stratagy -- bone headed as it is.


As much as people tend to hate outsourcing, it frequently _does_
increase the efficiency of the industries, see this paper:

http://econpapers.hhs.se/article/fip..._3Av.9no.3.htm
--

Real world is perfectly indifferent to lies that
are the foundation of leftist "thinking".
Jul 18 '05 #125
Alex Martelli said unto the world upon 2005-01-04 11:15:
<mi***************@gmail.com> wrote:

But then I have THREE published recipes!!
Does that mean that I get three free copies of the cookbook ? ;-)

...ti piacerebbe eh...?-) Sorry, "one each", even though you have
_five_ credits. For the curious, here's the roster of most credited
contributors (remember, significant comments we merged into other's
recipes also count!-)...:

<SNIP>
If you wished to count only _authored_ recipes (but that's a bit
misleading, since in several recipes-as-published there is a merge of
two or three separately submitted and accepted recipes, and here I'm
counting only the first-listed-author per published-recipe...):

1: 25 u'Luther Blissett'
<SNIP>

...but each still gets ONE free copy...!-)
Alex


Since I'm certain Luther won't be claiming his copy ;-) perhaps we could
auction it off?

Best,

Brian vdB
Jul 18 '05 #126
Bulba! wrote:
.... The Americans show the French engineers a working prototype.
The French engineers scratch their heads and ask warily:
"OK, it works in practice; but will it work in theory?"


I once worked with a computer built by two graduate students who formed
a company. The scuttlebutt was that they were very different people.
Of one it was said, "his designs are beautiful and provably correct,
but they have the nasty habit of not working when you wire them up."
The other's story was more like, "its amazing, you can prove his
designs cannot possibly work, but every time he builds them, they
seem to work in defiance of every engineering principle." Both of
them had some version of the social skills of your average technical
genius, that is to say, less than the world normally requires.

When it became known these two were working together, the generally
accepted view was that this company would either produce a
spectacularly fast machine, or at least one of them would be dead.

--Scott David Daniels
Sc***********@Acm.Org
Jul 18 '05 #127
> But the vision of what? Do we have clear, detailed, unambigous vision
_of the process_ or just big ideological axes to grind? I'm afraid
we're close to the latter situation - even though Python is remarkably
different in this area than the "free software": clean, pragmatic,
effective, free to include in closed-source. If Python were GPLed,
I wouldn't use it: attempting to force people to share doesn't work.
That is an interesting thing about open source. I'm very surprised and
encouraged by the wide slice of philosophical views that it embrases.

Me personally, I believe in free software, but always talk about open
source. My answer regarding forcing people to share -- I like the GPL
-- and I am perfectly happy to have anyone who does not like the GPL
not to use any GPLed software. I don't feel compelled to share.
Well, I'd say that lack of interchangeability in software is a big
obstacle on this road: not that there's little source code, but
that it's relatively hard (read: expensive) to combine the pieces.
Linux/BSD/Unix in some ways have been the most consistent platforms
over time. It is ironic that POSIX like systems are perhaps the only
systems that have a pretty set of standards back to the early 1970's.
It's a great story of what can be done by sharing.
'The problem is that for all of the rhetoric about software becoming a
"commodity", most software is still very much not a commodity: one
software product is rarely completely interchangeable with another.'
The thing about Open Source -- I don't think I've heard of any other way
for software to become commodity. I'd love to hear about other options.
This could be made into a very strong argument for OSS: see the
OSS developers as your "outsourced team" that works for almost
nothing, i.e. "if we want to win them or get them to help, maybe
we should contribute our bugfixes and enhancements to them".
I've wondered about this. I think the big issue is that it's not
outsourcing where it works -- but the potential for software customization
an in-sourcing things. That's why it seems to me that Open Source is
portentially the opposite of oursourcing -- though I guess the
customization can be outsourced... hmm...
As much as people tend to hate outsourcing, it frequently _does_
increase the efficiency of the industries.


I actually don't have a problem with outsourcing if it makes sense. The
big issue I have with this sort of thing is that often the numbers look
good only because hidden costs are transfered to other parts of the
organization. Often the outsourcing company even participates in this sort
of thing -- gives upper management the servicies they have always had,
gives the rest of the company poor service. I've seen this in the company
I work for.

Rob
Jul 18 '05 #128
Peter Hansen wrote:
I know that I've started many one-man projects over the years,
and only slowly (I'm a little thick, you see) came to realize
that while it's incredibly easy to start something, seeing it
through to the end is rather more difficult.

At this point, perhaps largely as a result of a new world-view
inspired by the agile movement, I rarely start anything...
and when I do, it's driven by a strong, recurring need, and I
only do just enough to meet that need, in the simplest way
I can find. (Often, that ends up not involving a computer.)


So here we are, in our wisdom. Never starting anything grandiose for
fear of failure :). Personally I'm trying to get back some of that old
stupidity but I'm very thick :)

Ian
Jul 18 '05 #129
"Rob Emmons" <rm******@member.fsf.org> writes:
Me personally, I believe in free software, but always talk about open
source. My answer regarding forcing people to share -- I like the GPL
-- and I am perfectly happy to have anyone who does not like the GPL
not to use any GPLed software. I don't feel compelled to share.


I'd go further. It's not possible to force anyone to share, but the
GPL aims to remove software from a system that instead aims to force
people NOT to share. As the MPAA knows, people do want to share, and
forcing them not to do so is impossible without turning the world into
a police state. Maybe if Python were GPL, then Bulba wouldn't use it,
but since it's not GPL, some people find themselves much less willing
to contribute to it than if it were GPL. (I myself contribute bug
reports and maybe small patches, but resist larger projects since
there are GPL'd things that I can do instead). So catering to the
wishes of Bulba and Microsoft may actually be impeding Python
development. Yes, there are some people selfless enough to do long
and difficult unpaid software tasks so that Bulba and Bill G can get
richer by stopping people from sharing it, but others of us only want
to do unpaid programming if we can make sure that the results stay
available for sharing.
Jul 18 '05 #130
Premshree Pillai <pr**************@gmail.com> wrote:
Do contributors of less than 5 recipes get a copy too? :-?
Of course!
Btw, is there a comprehensive list of ALL contributors put up anywhere?


Not yet -- do you think I should put it up on my website?
Alex
Jul 18 '05 #131
EP
Bulba! <bu***@bulba.com> wrote:

Frankly, I find such models to be built on over-stretched analogies
to physics - how _exactly_ is gravity supposed to be an analogy
equivalent to economic "forces"? Sure such model can be built - but
is it adequate in explaining real-world phenomenons? Analogy
tends to be the weakest form of reasoning. I'd be wary of making
such analogies.

Apparently the Gravity Model is still of some interest, if recent citationsare an indication. I'm not an expert, but all the economic models I was taught were also grounded in math, not just analogy.

gravity models: http://faculty.washington.edu/krumme...s/gravity.html
some empirical studies: http://www.hec.unil.ch/mbrulhar/Empirtrade/#gravity
Models like this probably tend to be built by French engineers from
this joke:

The American and French engineers work together on some
product (that would look strange nowadays but it's not impossible
in principle).

The Americans show the French engineers a working prototype.

The French engineers scratch their heads and ask warily:

"OK, it works in practice; but will it work in theory?"

Yeah, I hate it when people try to understand things.
cheers

Jul 18 '05 #132
al*****@yahoo.com (Alex Martelli) writes:
...but each still gets ONE free copy...!-)


Who gets Luther Blissett's copy ? :-)

And are all the Luther Blissetts the same Luther Blisset ?
Jul 18 '05 #133
On Wed, 5 Jan 2005 08:55:39 +0100, Alex Martelli <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote:
Premshree Pillai <pr**************@gmail.com> wrote:
Do contributors of less than 5 recipes get a copy too? :-?
Of course!
Btw, is there a comprehensive list of ALL contributors put up anywhere?


Not yet -- do you think I should put it up on my website?


If you can, why not!

Alex
--
http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list

--
Premshree Pillai
http://www.livejournal.com/~premshree
Jul 18 '05 #134
Bulba! <bu***@bulba.com> wrote:
...
First, even though I disagree with you in places, thanks for
this reply - it enhanced my knowledge of the topic in some
You're welcome!
What you wrote regards especially strong the industries you pointed
at: fashion, jewellery, esp. I think in those industries those factors
may be decisive. When this street is renown in the city to have
"good jewellers" located there, the choice for a new jeweller in this
city is almost like this: get located there or die.

However, I'd argue that industries with those kinds of dependencies
are actually pretty rare.
And yet the phenomenon appears in quantitatively similar ways (to
different scales) in many industries where either the supply side or
demand side benefits of clustering apply.
Now consider a new company Z set up to compete with X, Y and Z. Where
Ooops, typo, sorry, call the new company T!-)
will THEY set up shop? Quarter Q has the strong advantage of offering
many experienced suppliers nearby -- and in many industries there are
benefits in working closely with suppliers, too (even just to easily
have them compete hard for your business...).


I grant that this model is neat and intuitive - but I'd argue it is
not very adequate to real world. Read on.


Apart from its being exogenous (the model does not try to explain why X
Y and Z were already located in Q -- only why, given this state of
affair, T has advantages to setting things up in Q, too, which may well
offset the costs such as higher rents), I don't think so -- but, I _am_
reading;-).

YOU going to set up shop? Rents in that piazza are high, BUT - that's
where people who want to buy new hats will come strolling to look at the
displays, compare prices, and generally shop.


That will only be true if the hats from Piazza dell'Orologio are much
better than elsewhere.


No, this is not necessary (it's not even strictly necessary that they're
_believed_ to be better, say because they traditionally were). A
sufficient inducement to the would-be customers to go shopping there
rather than elsewhere is that in that Piazza they get more choices for
the same effort, so shopping there is more effective.

Say that the city has ten hat shops of the same quality. One is in
Piazza dell'Unita`, all the way to the Northern border of the city. One
is in Piazza Saragozza, all the way to the Southern border. The other
eight are in Piazza dell'Orologio, smack in the middle of downtown.
Each shop offers hats taken from the same random distribution: we can
say that a normal curve measuring the utility function for the customer
(some function of price, quality, looks, fit, ...), with identical
average and variance, represents the best hat available today from a
given shop from the POV of a given customer.

Say that a customer has one day to shop for their new hat, and the
locations are too far apart for a customer to visit more than one
location within that day. If a customer chooses to visit the one
southern shop, or the one northern shop, the customer expects to be
presented with the choice of hat from said normal curve. If the
customer goes downtown, they expect a choice which overall lies along a
DIFFERENT curve -- the best-of-eight samples from the normal curve.
Sorry I can't model that analytically, but both intuitively and from any
little simulation (easy to code in Python) you can see the customer's
expectations are much better if they choose the location where they can
do more comparison shopping!

If you change this handwaving into numbers you can model this
demand-side push of hatsellers towards clustering vs the forces pushing
in the other direction, such as the supply-side issue of higher rents
which may be assumed, all other things being equal, to make each shop's
curve slightly _worse_ in the downtown location (higher costs, all other
things being equal, must mean higher prices).

It's not just fashion. I can look at the historical location of
fishmongers in Bologna, still to some extent observable today, and I see
them generally spread all over BUT with two obvious centers of downtown
aggregation: a minor one at the Mercato delle Erbe (center-south side of
downtown) and a major one at via Pescherie Vecchie (which just happens
to mean "street of the Old Fishmongers" -- that concentration goes back
many, many centuries). When I'm just getting, say, some fresh anchovies
to fry for a pasta sauce, I'm likeliest to shop at a fishmonger near my
home (the University side of downtown, northerly) or get them as part of
a generic grocery shopping trip at a supermarket. But sometimes I'm
preparing for a meal where fish plays a big role, maybe with company,
and then I want the best, and then I head for Pescherie Vecchie. It's
always very crowded with shoppers there, particularly at the times when
people are likeliest to be shopping for fresh fish. It's obvious to
even the most casual observer that just the same mechanism is at play:
there are demand-driven centripetal forces because shoppers sometimes
like to comparison-shop and get a lot of choice.

This demand-side process doesn't operate much for "commodities" -- goods
with quality and prices so flat and standardized that comparison
shopping does not matter much. Much fashion-industry ware is that way,
spewed out at commodity levels by the same factories. Some
concentration may nevertheless remain for purely historical reasons: I'm
thinking for example of the concentration of bookstores in Charing Cross
Road, and of electronics shops in the nearby Tottenham Court Road, in
London. Being in London only rarely nowadays, if I'm shopping for books
I'm likely to head for Charing Cross, because I know I'll get choice; if
I was a resident, though, and shopped for books often enough, I guess
I'd find out about other places that may be cheaper or otherwise better.

In any case, this more detailed demand-side sketch already shows that
transaction costs are the key consideration in explaning clustering.
Considering that they're also key in the very EXISTENCE of firms,
according to standard economic theory, it's hardly surprising that they
should play a large role in shaping the firm's foundational decisions,
including, of course, location. But the demand-side model focuses on
the _customers_' transaction costs, their advantage in comparison
shopping. Similarly, a supply-side model can focus on suppliers'
issues. Focusing within the firm, we can get insight on the pluses and
minuses to the firm of being in a single place vs spreading itself
around, but clustering of separate firms is clearly a different issue.

If the quality and prices of products converged, the gain for the
customers to go there isn't high. And the prices for customers
have to be higher, as the high rents drive some suppliers out,
so the supply of hats is lower, ergo customer prices are higher.
....which is why you know a priori that some equilibrium point is likely:
there are costs as well as advantages to clustering (rents can often be
an important slice of the costs, but other inputs that are costly to
transport could also become scarce, though maybe not to the same point
as land and suitable buildings and other fixed infrastructure).

But there's nothing intrinsic to predict that the amount of clustering
at equilibrium will be low. Transaction costs are often connected to
acquiring and checking information; "knowing" (or believing one knows)
where the hatsellers are may be enough of an advantage to maintain a
clustering, once it's historically formed, even when you can hardly find
any more present evidence of materials-costs advantage to it... the
information-cost part of the transaction costs may well suffice.

That's close to where
felt-makers are, since they sell to other hat-makers. Should your
business soon flourish, so you'll need to hire a worker, that's where
you can soon meet all the local workers, relaxing with a glass of wine
at the local osteria after work, and start getting acquainted with
everybody, etc, etc...


That is true in the model. However, I don't find it very true
in practice in a lot of industries:

- "physical proximity" in this city very often means navigating
through jammed roads, so the transportation costs in terms of
time and money may very well increase rather than decrease by
locating "in a cluster", even though physical distance may
be smaller. physical distance != temporal distance & a cost
of getting there.


Congestion can be a part of transaction costs, sure, just as higher
rents can. But if your suppliers or customers are clustered in
Hollywood, or the City of London, etc, etc, you don't diminish your
congestion-driven costs much by going elsewhere, as you still need to
see your customers or suppliers often -- you just add the costs of
getting to LA / London / etc to those of moving within it -- in this
sense congestion costs behave very differently from rents.
- since everything is more expensive, so is labor; even
if you pay this worker a little bit less elsewhere, he might
find it more attractive to commute shortly to work and
have lower costs of living in a different area, so this very
well may work as a motivation to relocate
Sure, you get more competition: just as it's easier for you to get your
competitors' best people, it's easier for your competitors to get yours
(to some extent this applies to other inputs, and customers too, but
highly skilled labor is the key component in many industries). This
raises general costs, roughly equally for all clustered competitors, but
another factor may be more prevalent because it differentiates among
competitors: if you think you're among the best company in your sector,
a more desirable place for your competitors' best personnel to work,
then you perceive clustering as desirable because of that; if you think
you're an inferior company, so your best people are likely to want to
flee, then you perceive clustering as undesirable.

Thus, seeking clusters can send the message "we're the best"; avoiding
clusters can send the message "we're not so hot". That's how situations
of asymmetric information tend to work in economics -- and since
Akerlof's seminal work "The Market for Lemons" is 35 years old, and he
got the Nobel prize for it (and related work, of course) in 2001, I
believe we can call this field reasonably classic by now.

Note that I'm not saying there are no forces pushing against clustering:
of course there are, varying by industry etc. But they're easy to
overstate. Consider the highly skilled worker who has a choice: they
can stay in some crowded cluster, say Silicon Valley, and keep facing
congestion, high rents, etc, for high salaries and great opportunities
to keep hopping to the highest bidder; or, they can accept an offer at a
lower salary in some more isolated area, say a minor cluster such as
Austin, Tx, and get less congestion, cheaper housing, etc, although also
less opportunity to keep enhancing their careers. Which kind of worker
will tend to pick which of the two? Somebody who thinks they may be
past the peak of their career, and won't get many more lucrative offers
in the future anywa, might be more tempted by (say) Austin, while
somebody who's keenly competitive and on a sharp upwards path may keep
braving the congestion for the (to them) attractive lures and challenges
of Silicon Valley. Of course there are a zillion other factors, but in
as much as we're talking about factors strictly related to clustering,
this is the bias, and therefore (in an Akerlovian model) this is the
message which tends to be sent by such choices.

I.e., seeking clusters send a message "I'm the best", avoiding them
sends "I'm not so hot", for the individual highly skilled worker as much
as for the firm in some highly competitive industry. In as much as we
live in a "superstar economy" clustering becomes more desirable because
of such competitive pressures and messages.

- few large businesses nowadays have customers neatly
clustered in one location, they tend to sell countrywide
or worldwide; so the premium for getting into this expensive
place is low and the costs are high
There are exceptions (monopsonies or oligopsonies) but for _large_ firms
this generally holds. But a _branch_ of a large firm may be set up
specifically to serve a geographically identified market, so the
location decision for the branch need not reflect the overall firm's
issues, but rather only those specific to said market.
- production nowadays tends to be geographically
distributed as well
Not as much as you might think. For example, people who worry about
programming jobs moving to India may not realize a vast majority of such
jobs go to a SINGLE tiny "spot" within the huge expanse of India, for
all of the usual reasons promoting clustering.

- communication costs and transportation costs are DRAMATICALLY
lower nowadays than they used to be (today it costs 1/80 [one
eightieth] to transport a kg of mass using an aircraft in
comparison to what it cost in 1930s; ditto for telecommunication).
....so in the '30s very VERY few goods moved by plane. Not that it's
exactly _common_ nowadays to move most goods by plane, mind you; but
sure, it's conceivable in some cases.

But there are other transaction costs, mostly connected to the need for
face-to-face interaction as being the most effective form. I've worked
for a SW development firm which tried to coordinate development
distributed across many locations via cheap video-based teleconferences
spanning timezones from California all the way to India; I've done way
more than my share of telecommuting and airport- and plane-hopping for
development projects geographically distributed and/or mostly located
far from the customers and/or other stakeholders; I know whereof I
speak...

Consider real world examples: Microsoft in Redmond or Boeing in
Seattle. Microsoft needs quite a lot of programmers. It would be
rather hard to find enough programmers born and educated in
Redmond, wouldn't it?
Of course, or, at MS's scale, in any other single location. So, as they
grew, they had to face the usual within-firm tension between the
advantages of a single location and that of many; right now, quoting
their careers webpage, they "employ more than 50,000 people worldwide,
including offices in every major U.S. metropolitan city, and subsidiary
offices in more than 60 countries.".

For example, to attract the kind of highly competitive top-of-career
high-tech worker that just will NOT leave the cluster of Silicon Valley,
they chose to set up a new campus in Mountain View, CA, focusing on the
convergence of entertainment and information technologies and
industries; to attract the kind of European scholar who considers living
in Europe a must and/or has no patience for the silly hassles put up by
the US to keep foreigners out, Microsoft has an excellent Research
laboratory at Cambrige, UK; and so on, and so forth.

Of course, management-wise, there would be some great advantages to MS
to having everybody at the Redmond campus, but even MS must deal with
the real world, and the job market in particular: they're very
pragmatic, so they get things in the Campus where they can, elsewhere
when they must.

How a large firm internally decides to site its various locations is
really a separate issue from that of how different firms cluster, though
of course there are many connections, particularly when you study the
siting of one particular location. The two examples I give here are
reasonably typical of a focus on supply-side and particularly the
availability of highly skilled workers in high-tech areas... and then
they show, again, the pluses of clustering. If Microsoft had found it
easier to attract the kind of people they wanted, and build the needed
connections to other firms in entertainment/information merging, outside
the Silicon Valley cluster, there would be no reason for them to site
there -- and instead you find them smack in the middle at Mountain View.

Boeing: Seattle?! Why Seattle? Doesn't Boeing sell most of its
new aircrafts in Washington?
Obviously they agree with you, since their World Headquarters are in
Chicago since over 3 years ago -- not exactly all that near to
Washington, DC, but way closer than Seattle;-) "Why Seattle" has
obvious purely historical answers -- they were born there, etc, etc.
"Why Chicago" is a far more interesting question, since clearly the
choice was way more open once they had decided that to keep expanding in
Seattle was too costly or inopportune. You can find a lot about that
specific decision on the web, of course.

AFAIK, in Europe Boeing does much of its production in
cooperation with Alena in Italy. From this viewpoint it really
The spelling is "Alenia" (just in case somebody wants to google for more
info).
doesn't matter much if Boeing is located in Seattle or anywhere
else in America really, does it?
Not much, though flying to Chicago is marginally easier than flying to
Seattle, it's not enough to matter;-)
Right here (Poland), most of the foreign corporations set up their
call centers in Warsaw, which is totally ridiculous given how
expensive that city is. Oh I can understand setting up a warehouse
by HP there because it's close to its biggest customers. But
I really see no good reason behind HP call center being located in
Warsaw, too, AFAIK (or at least that's the city code when I have
to call them sometimes).

Most of the successful domestic companies I have observed here
have started and still operate in some God-forgotten provincial
towns, where land and labor is cheap and when it comes to
highly skilled professionals, you have to "import" some or all of
them from elsewhere anyway, because not even a big city is
likely to have precisely all the kinds of ultra-specialized
professionals that you may need. And there's less crime, and
shuttling kids to school isn't a nightmare, and the costs of living
are lower. Plus there's less of other things to do, so your workers
tend to focus more on work. :-)
I remember glancing at some costly booklet called something like "Poland
Infrastructure Report" back when an employer was considering setting up
a branch office somewhere in Poland (selling and customizing SW for the
mechanical industry), and back then issues such as internet and other
telecom access, easy availability of top graduates, ease for expatriates
from Italy to live in the place for a while knowing only English and
Italian, at most German and French, and not Polish or Russian, closeness
to good international airports and other good transportation, closeness
to partner firms and potential customers' decision-makers, all appeared
to point to Warsaw, if I recall correctly. Mechanical engineers with
some programming experience or viceversa, good translators, and good
salespeople with connections in the mechanical industry, are not as
ultra-specialized as all that, after all.

Risk avoidance is quite a secondary issue here (except if you introduce
in your model an aspect of imperfect-information, in which case,
following on the decisions made by locals who may be presumed to have
better information than you is an excellent strategy). Nor is there any
"agency problem" (managers acting for their interests and against the
interest of owners), not a _hint_ of it, in fact -- the hatmaker acting
on his own behalf is perfectly rational and obviously has no agency
problem!).


I find no justification in most of foreign companies setting up their
call centers in a ridiculously overpriced capital city - so from
my viewpoint the risk avoidance is the only explanation that is
left.


The firm I was working for had a consensus decision-making process (even
I was involved) and managers (and other employees) and stockholders were
mostly the same people -- it wasn't all that large a firm at the time.
Nobody needed to practice risk avoidance. The infrastructure advantages
of Warsaw vs other locations loomed HUGELY large, judging of course from
some consultants' reports purchased for the purpose -- it may look
different to people living in the place, although I'd like to get a
second opinion from Warsaw's Chamber of Commerce since you appear to
have a very specific individual bone to pick (and I can sympathize: even
though Milan may be the economically correct choice for foreign
investors, I'd never want to LIVE there myself, being a Bolognese... but
I must admit that Milan's infrastructure, connections, location, etc,
etc, may in several cases drive a rational decision to set up there).

Not all corporations do that: in this country Coca-Cola has made
their big "green field" investment almost in the middle of nowhere
in this country. GM, Volkswagen, FIAT, and most of other carmakers
have made similar decisions. Doesn't seem like those were bad business
decisions for them.
If their needs were for cheap land for greenfield factories, and cheap
workers for said factories, then they were acting under very different
forces than a midsize company looking to set up a mostly-sales branch
office, not an industrial factory.

The cluster I've seen - an IT "corporate area" in Dublin,
Ireland - was specifically created not due to "natural clustering",
but due to govt policy of tax breaks and preparing good
infrastructure in this place rather than some inter-business and
inter-customer dependencies, since e.g. Microsoft (where the company
sent me for training) neither is able to get all the workers it needs
just from this city, nor it sells mostly to local customers, but it
sells all over Europe.
That's addressing only the issue of endogenous vs exogenous original
causes for clustering. Many attempts to create clusters artificially
have happened ever since the economical advantages of clusters were
discussed in the literature, together with the crucial point that WHERE
the cluster originally happens is in most cases almost random, it's
self-reinforcing once it's properly underway. Most such attempts have
failed, because governments' powers aren't unlimited; Dublin is a good
example of this strategy succeeding.

No matter WHY the good infrastructure is there, the tax breaks, the
thriving community of high-tech workers, etc, a firm deciding where to
set up may perfectly well find it rational to have all of these
advantages overwhelm the issues of rents, congestion, competition for
good workers. In other words, my disagreement with your thesis that,
because the government lowered taxes, taking advantage of that is NOT in
the best interests of a firm's stockholders, is now maximal: I find your
thesis not just wrong, but by now outright silly.

To me, the issue of manager having to face their superiors
asking him a question - "why on Earth have you decided
to locate our branch in the middle of nowhere in this country?
Why not in capital city? Can't you look at the map? Read some
stats how many inhabitants this city has and what is the
income level there?" is overwhelming: it would take long
time to explain for this manager who e.g. may have already
You are wrong, because the same decisions get rationally made by
sole-owner sole-manager companies where these considerations cannot
apply. Deciding where to site an imporant branch is a BIG decision: of
course it takes a long time, *DUH*, and all sorts of factors are taken
into consideration.
got his hands dirty in this industry in that country to know
that say, there's little revenue increase to be gained in
locating the facility in capital city, the needed workers are
actually hard to find there, etc.
So all of these factors are folded into a huge pile of reports in
companies where such decisions are at all likely to be challenged later,
and sign-off on the folders is carefully obtained for cover-up purposes.

If the local development agencies of the "middles of nowhere in that
country" don't do their job, including showering managers planning such
decisions with supporting materials, that's a bad sign: maybe due to
cultural influences foreign capital, professionals, and managers are NOT
welcome there as they would be in a relative metropolis, for example.
This is (or was not too long ago) surely the case for some rural parts
of the British Islands, and Italy too. It's perfectly rational and
consone to stocholders' interests to take this into account and site
where you KNOW you'll be welcome.

To me, this is much like decision whether do much of
development in Python or MS VS / VB. "But everybody's
using VisualStudio / VB" is a simple and compelling argument:
"so many people can't be wrong", while explanations that
going Python may actually be better decision in this context
requires long and complex explanations and managers oft can
not even be bothered to read executive summaries.
The issue of parallels or otherwise is by now totally secondary, to me,
to the main issue that I find your approach to explaining regional
clustering problems across industries totally, irredeemably, and
horribly WRONG. So, I'm not going to make the post even longer by even
trying to address this part. Few, besides the two of us, can be left
reading by now, and clearly our disagreements on economics are so total
that it's unlikely we can get anywhere by our discussions anyway.

I feel econ models frequently are elegantly designed
abstractions of elegantly designed problems; the problem
is how close those are to the real-world problems. At
the end of the day, it's "human action" that gets all
of that implemented. I've seen too much resources
going down the drain in completely idiotic projects
and decisions to believe managers are rational beings.


When you claim managers are acting rationally (if selfishly) to avoid
risk to themselves, you can't then justify this claim by adding that
they aren't rational at all. Economics does cover, in its modern form,
both issues of agency problems (misalignment of incentives between agent
and owner) AND ones of "bounded rationality" (all the way from
asymmetric information, to transaction costs relating to acquiring and
processing information). Trying to throw economics overboard because
you can't be bothered to understand it is a kind of behavior that
reminds me closely of the "leftists" you excoriate in your signature.

Alex
Jul 18 '05 #135
Jacek Generowicz ha scritto:
al*****@yahoo.com (Alex Martelli) writes:

...but each still gets ONE free copy...!-)

Who gets Luther Blissett's copy ? :-)

And are all the Luther Blissetts the same Luther Blisset ?


no, some of them are Wu Ming
http://www.wumingfoundation.com/
(from http://www.lutherblissett.net/indexe...graphy_it.html)
Jul 18 '05 #136
Hmm... I'd love to see a list... just to know if I'm on it. Permission
was sought for several of my recipes, but I don't know if any were
actually used. I'm very curious...
Regards,

Fuzzy
http://www.voidspace.org.uk/python/index.shtml

Jul 18 '05 #137
Premshree Pillai <pr**************@gmail.com> wrote:
On Wed, 5 Jan 2005 08:55:39 +0100, Alex Martelli <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote:
Premshree Pillai <pr**************@gmail.com> wrote:
Do contributors of less than 5 recipes get a copy too? :-?

Of course!
Btw, is there a comprehensive list of ALL contributors put up anywhere?

Not yet -- do you think I should put it up on my website?


If you can, why not!


Hmmm, essentially, because the list is *tentative* until the very last
minute -- even at proofreading time it's possible, though very unlikely,
that we might have to excise a recipe completely.

But, as long as this is understood -- I sent both lists (first-authors
only, and all-contributions) to Anand Pillai, since he asked in mail,
and I gather he'll be putting them up on his site.
Alex
Jul 18 '05 #138
Wow I didn't realize that I made that significant of a contribution :-)
3: 9 u'John Nielsen'


Well, I guess I did and I didn't. I worked hard to put postings up
before I started taking classes again at a university last fall (with
little kids and working full time, classes are a frustrating timesink).
I am glad I could make a difference and proud to see what the community
could put together. And of course, thanks to Alex and all the editors
for their hard work.

The cookbook site is, of course, among my default startup pages, so I
can peruse what new things pop up there :-)

I am slowly building up ideas on more things to post. This spring
break, hopefully I'll get my mind enough together to put it all down
coherently.

john

Jul 18 '05 #139

"Alex Martelli" <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1gpvtjk.3jf7dc1cch7yfN%al*****@yahoo.com...
Premshree Pillai <pr**************@gmail.com> wrote:
Btw, is there a comprehensive list of ALL contributors put up anywhere?
Not yet -- do you think I should put it up on my website?


Updating the status of the recipes on the web site would be nice.

Dan

Alex

Jul 18 '05 #140
Dan Perl <da*****@rogers.com> wrote:
"Alex Martelli" <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1gpvtjk.3jf7dc1cch7yfN%al*****@yahoo.com...
Premshree Pillai <pr**************@gmail.com> wrote:
Btw, is there a comprehensive list of ALL contributors put up anywhere?


Not yet -- do you think I should put it up on my website?


Updating the status of the recipes on the web site would be nice.


Please take this up with Activestate guys -- I have no say on what
happens on the website they own, nor any special status there.
Alex
Jul 18 '05 #141

"Alex Martelli" <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1gpxjfg.thnaf0oys6jrN%al*****@yahoo.com...
Dan Perl <da*****@rogers.com> wrote:
"Alex Martelli" <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1gpvtjk.3jf7dc1cch7yfN%al*****@yahoo.com...
> Premshree Pillai <pr**************@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Btw, is there a comprehensive list of ALL contributors put up
>> anywhere?
>
> Not yet -- do you think I should put it up on my website?
Updating the status of the recipes on the web site would be nice.


Please take this up with Activestate guys -- I have no say on what
happens on the website they own, nor any special status there.


I was under the impression that the status on the website reflects whether
the recipes are approved or rejected for the book (with a few more states
added: new, deferred, pending). I gather now from your reply that there is
no connection between that status and the book.

Okay then, I am adding my vote to posting the list of all the contributors.
I still think that the ActiveState website is an appropriate place to do
that, as they also have the recipes. Actually, what is the exact
relationship between the recipes on the website and the recipes published in
the book?

If not on the ActiveState website, then posting the list to another website
would be good too. Even if the list is not absolutely final and may be
changed later (a disclaimer to that effect would suffice). I have two
recipes submitted (for which I got permission requests) and I am curious.

BTW, I sent an email to py************@activestate.com earlier today, before
I even saw this thread in c.l.p. I haven't received a reply from them yet.

Dan

Alex

Jul 18 '05 #142
On Wed, 5 Jan 2005 13:52:06 -0500, Dan Perl <da*****@rogers.com> wrote:

"Alex Martelli" <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1gpxjfg.thnaf0oys6jrN%al*****@yahoo.com...
Dan Perl <da*****@rogers.com> wrote:
"Alex Martelli" <al*****@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1gpvtjk.3jf7dc1cch7yfN%al*****@yahoo.com...
> Premshree Pillai <pr**************@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Btw, is there a comprehensive list of ALL contributors put up
>> anywhere?
>
> Not yet -- do you think I should put it up on my website?

Updating the status of the recipes on the web site would be nice.
Please take this up with Activestate guys -- I have no say on what
happens on the website they own, nor any special status there.


I was under the impression that the status on the website reflects whether
the recipes are approved or rejected for the book (with a few more states
added: new, deferred, pending). I gather now from your reply that there is
no connection between that status and the book.


No connection.

Okay then, I am adding my vote to posting the list of all the contributors.
I still think that the ActiveState website is an appropriate place to do
that, as they also have the recipes. Actually, what is the exact
relationship between the recipes on the website and the recipes published in
the book?
Recipes published in the book are taken from the website, AFAIK.
And if you want to know more:
http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/python/2.../cookbook.html :)

If not on the ActiveState website, then posting the list to another website
would be good too. Even if the list is not absolutely final and may be
changed later (a disclaimer to that effect would suffice). I have two
recipes submitted (for which I got permission requests) and I am curious.

BTW, I sent an email to py************@activestate.com earlier today, before
I even saw this thread in c.l.p. I haven't received a reply from them yet.

Dan

Alex


--
http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list

--
Premshree Pillai
http://www.livejournal.com/~premshree
Jul 18 '05 #143
Alex Martelli wrote:

[...]
If you wished to count only _authored_ recipes (but that's a bit
misleading, since in several recipes-as-published there is a merge of
two or three separately submitted and accepted recipes, and here I'm
counting only the first-listed-author per published-recipe...):

1: 25 u'Luther Blissett'
2: 21 u'Alex Martelli'
3: 9 u'John Nielsen'
4: 8 u'Raymond Hettinger'
5: 8 u'J\x9frgen Hermann'
6: 6 u'S\x8ebastien Keim'
7: 6 u'Peter Cogolo'
8: 6 u'Anna Martelli Ravenscroft'
9: 5 u'Scott David Daniels'
10: 5 u'Paul Prescod'
11: 5 u'Michele Simionato'
12: 5 u'Mark Nenadov'
13: 5 u'Jeff Bauer'
14: 5 u'Brent Burley'

....but each still gets ONE free copy...!-)


And I *still* think we deserve to be told the Luther Blissett story ...

conspiratorial-ly y'rs - steve
--
Steve Holden http://www.holdenweb.com/
Python Web Programming http://pydish.holdenweb.com/
Holden Web LLC +1 703 861 4237 +1 800 494 3119
Jul 18 '05 #144
On Wed, 5 Jan 2005 11:19:56 +0100, al*****@yahoo.com (Alex Martelli)
wrote:
Say that the city has ten hat shops of the same quality. One is in
Piazza dell'Unita`, all the way to the Northern border of the city. One
is in Piazza Saragozza, all the way to the Southern border. The other
eight are in Piazza dell'Orologio, smack in the middle of downtown.
Each shop offers hats taken from the same random distribution: we can
say that a normal curve measuring the utility function for the customer
(some function of price, quality, looks, fit, ...), with identical
average and variance, represents the best hat available today from a
given shop from the POV of a given customer. Say that a customer has one day to shop for their new hat, and the
locations are too far apart for a customer to visit more than one
location within that day. If a customer chooses to visit the one
southern shop, or the one northern shop, the customer expects to be
presented with the choice of hat from said normal curve. If the
customer goes downtown, they expect a choice which overall lies along a
DIFFERENT curve -- the best-of-eight samples from the normal curve.
Sorry I can't model that analytically, but both intuitively and from any
little simulation (easy to code in Python) you can see the customer's
expectations are much better if they choose the location where they can
do more comparison shopping!
Obviously. I completely agree with you that is how it works _in a
model_, if reality were similar to that model.

What I doubt is that _in practice_ simple costs associated with
physical distance are so overwhelming. Maybe they used to be
in the past. I keep asking: what exactly is the premium to customer
to go to that place? what is the cost?

Suppose in your example the customer has to get in the car
in order to get to the hat shop anyway. And when he gets to
that quarter of the city, he finds no parking place. And we
know that even highly paid people tend to spend seemingly
irrationally much time driving around in order to find the
free place because they find the thought of having to pay
little money to pay for parking so disgusting.
<snip good model>
Note that I'm not saying there are no forces pushing against clustering:
of course there are, varying by industry etc. But they're easy to
overstate.
True, true...

What I'm getting at is that "repelling forces" can also be easy to
understate and "pulling forces" can be easy to overstate.
Consider the highly skilled worker who has a choice: they
can stay in some crowded cluster, say Silicon Valley, and keep facing
congestion, high rents, etc, for high salaries and great opportunities
to keep hopping to the highest bidder; or, they can accept an offer at a
lower salary in some more isolated area, say a minor cluster such as
Austin, Tx, and get less congestion, cheaper housing, etc, although also
less opportunity to keep enhancing their careers.
I personally know a developer who worked in Orange County, absolutely
loved the place and refused to leave for years even though it consumed
almost half of his wage in rent. Then, one day, when he called me
(we like to have long talks over the phone), he said "screw it,
I truly hate to leave, but I'm not going to suffer that rent anymore".

Now he claims that due to other factors California is going down
the drain and educated people and businesses escape that state.
Apparently some stronger "repelling force" has overcome the
pulling clustering forces.
Which kind of worker
will tend to pick which of the two? Somebody who thinks they may be
past the peak of their career, and won't get many more lucrative offers
in the future anywa, might be more tempted by (say) Austin, while
somebody who's keenly competitive and on a sharp upwards path may keep
braving the congestion for the (to them) attractive lures and challenges
of Silicon Valley.
Not if the state has had rollling black-outs, which puts the
production on automated semiconductor line in danger, because
backup generators have not been designed to operate for such a
long black-out.

You see, I'm not disagreeing with you that your model applies
_where it applies_. I only disagree that it applies in face of
stronger forces. Now what kind of forces is dominant in
most frequent scenarios would have to be worked out in tedious
empirical research I think. Which I haven't done, because
learning some economics is just a hobby to me.
Of course there are a zillion other factors, but in
as much as we're talking about factors strictly related to clustering,
this is the bias, and therefore (in an Akerlovian model) this is the
message which tends to be sent by such choices.
This I agree with.

<snip>But there are other transaction costs, mostly connected to the need for
face-to-face interaction as being the most effective form. I've worked
for a SW development firm which tried to coordinate development
distributed across many locations via cheap video-based teleconferences
spanning timezones from California all the way to India; I've done way
more than my share of telecommuting and airport- and plane-hopping for
development projects geographically distributed and/or mostly located
far from the customers and/or other stakeholders; I know whereof I
speak...
Oh I do not mean smth so extreme.

<snip>I remember glancing at some costly booklet called something like "Poland
Infrastructure Report" back when an employer was considering setting up
a branch office somewhere in Poland (selling and customizing SW for the
mechanical industry), and back then issues such as internet and other
telecom access, easy availability of top graduates, ease for expatriates
from Italy to live in the place for a while knowing only English and
Italian, at most German and French, and not Polish or Russian, closeness
to good international airports and other good transportation, closeness
to partner firms and potential customers' decision-makers, all appeared
to point to Warsaw, if I recall correctly. Mechanical engineers with
some programming experience or viceversa, good translators, and good
salespeople with connections in the mechanical industry, are not as
ultra-specialized as all that, after all.
Most sales offices in Warsaw do not employ esp. educated people in
my impression. OTOH, the carmaking facilities nowadays require
more much more know-how and specialized workforce than a sales
office does. Or at least that was my impression when I worked at
the construction machine manufacturer in Berlin.

Capital investments per worker in auto industries are reportedly
very high. Simple physical tasks are done largely by machines,
like this 100 million Deutschmark costing laser-cutting installation
that I've seen there, where a pile of iron bars is pulled in at one
end and the pile of ready components is spitted out of the other end
(unlike typical thermal cutting, laser has the advantage of not
destroying the metal structure adjacent to the cut, so the parts
of the machines subject to high-stress are oft produced this way).

Oh, and by the way that installation doesn't get used much.
Somebody at the office didn't check carefully enough the
energy prices before ordering it and later someone discovered
that off-site specialized cutting firms that take advantage of
energy available at low prices at special times in other countries
can get it produced cheaper. Moving it elsewhere or selling
is not an option, since it is a specially constructed, low, 50-meters
long hall that stands inside the huge manufacturing hall of the
company.

100 million DM (when 1 DM was worth some half of Euro
back then) down the drain. When the company was in rather
bad financial situation (later I've learned it was finally bought
out by Americans). Oh well. No big deal.

I was utterly shocked. Having grown up in Soviet times I have
been used to seeing precious resources wasted by organizations
as if resources were growing on trees, but smth like this?! In a
shining ideal country of Germany?! Unthinkable.
The firm I was working for had a consensus decision-making process (even
I was involved) and managers (and other employees) and stockholders were
mostly the same people -- it wasn't all that large a firm at the time.
Nobody needed to practice risk avoidance.
Again, you may have had good luck. Where I worked (including
some places in Germany and UK) it was almost the only factor
that seemed to matter to people - they'd do ANYTHING not to
take a risky decision, to "pass the buck", not to stick their necks
out, not to declare doing some work that involved challenges.

Though maybe that is just my impression - such issues as
interpreting behavior of another human being are contrived
and tend to be heavily "filtered" in a subjective filters. Policemen
for instance place little value in witnesses of events, because
the testimonies tend to be made up of so much disinformation
and personal sentiments rather than perceiving what really
happened. If that happens re simple events, it is probably
much worse re interpretations of another person's motives.
The infrastructure advantages
of Warsaw vs other locations loomed HUGELY large, judging of course from
some consultants' reports purchased for the purpose --
I'd be skeptical of such reports - I don't know about situation from
the beginning of 1990s, where this partially may have been the
case; however, back then pretty much all of the country has had
lousy infrastructure, and today, many bigger cities have
comparatively good infrastructure.

Workers - here's the difference. Warsaw has been a big "vacuum
cleaner" for talented people from all over the country. This
may have been a factor.
it may look
different to people living in the place, although I'd like to get a
second opinion from Warsaw's Chamber of Commerce since you appear to
have a very specific individual bone to pick (and I can sympathize: even
though Milan may be the economically correct choice for foreign
investors, I'd never want to LIVE there myself, being a Bolognese... but
I must admit that Milan's infrastructure, connections, location, etc,
etc, may in several cases drive a rational decision to set up there).
It's not so much individual as the fact that 80% of foreign
investments in this country (in terms of amounts of money
invested) are made in Warsaw. While Warsaw REALLY does
not have so much better infrastructure.

There's the same problem with Russia: similar fraction of
foreign investments take place in Moscow, which drives
real estate prices there to simply insane levels. Even
though other big cities, e.g. Saint-Petersburg has 4.5
million inhabitants and lots of educated people there, too.

I doubt that foreign investments in more developed countries
are so concentrated in capital cities. Can your clustering model
really explain this difference?

IOW, I do not claim that your model has zero relevance to
real world. I only think that there may be other, fundamental
and stronger factors that overwhelm the "clustering forces".

There is another factor in this game: govt is a big customer
and stability and consistency of legal acts as well as transparency
in this country leave much to be desired with, to put it lightly.

So the companies HAVE TO be close to the centers of power,
just to have its property secure. In this way it is most definitely
rational decision to invest in Warsaw even thought the office
space there is more expensive than in London (at least that was the
case several years ago).

Not all corporations do that: in this country Coca-Cola has made
their big "green field" investment almost in the middle of nowhere
in this country. GM, Volkswagen, FIAT, and most of other carmakers
have made similar decisions. Doesn't seem like those were bad business
decisions for them.
If their needs were for cheap land for greenfield factories, and cheap
workers for said factories, then they were acting under very different
forces than a midsize company looking to set up a mostly-sales branch
office, not an industrial factory.
True. I grant that.
The cluster I've seen - an IT "corporate area" in Dublin,
Ireland - was specifically created not due to "natural clustering",
but due to govt policy of tax breaks and preparing good
infrastructure in this place rather than some inter-business and
inter-customer dependencies, since e.g. Microsoft (where the company
sent me for training) neither is able to get all the workers it needs
just from this city, nor it sells mostly to local customers, but it
sells all over Europe. That's addressing only the issue of endogenous vs exogenous original
causes for clustering. Many attempts to create clusters artificially
have happened ever since the economical advantages of clusters were
discussed in the literature, together with the crucial point that WHERE
the cluster originally happens is in most cases almost random, it's
self-reinforcing once it's properly underway.
Note that a lot of deliberate or half-deliberate attempts to create
clusters have failed: "content industry" in NY, there was a failed
attempt to create high-tech IT/telecom cluster in southern France,
etc. "Jumpstarting" the cluster should be easy if this model applied,
after which it should develop in a self-reinforcing manner. So why
deliberate attempts fail so frequently, while clusters appear in
other, unforeseen locations?
Most such attempts have
failed, because governments' powers aren't unlimited; Dublin is a good
example of this strategy succeeding.
I'm not sure if this is correlation, but not causation; perhaps except
in a wider sense, like creating other good reasons for foreign
companies to invest in Ireland at all.

I see the "clustering" forces as a sort of derived factor: first,
there are fundamental issues that make the company set up
in that place or not - see it as "mass" in a physical analogy.
Inter-dependency issues, or "gravity" in a physical analogy,
comes only later. I do not claim that they can't have the influence
at all, by no means. I'm just skeptical of claims if they are of
primary importance.
No matter WHY the good infrastructure is there, the tax breaks, the
thriving community of high-tech workers, etc, a firm deciding where to
set up may perfectly well find it rational to have all of these
advantages overwhelm the issues of rents, congestion, competition for
good workers. In other words, my disagreement with your thesis that,
because the government lowered taxes, taking advantage of that is NOT in
the best interests of a firm's stockholders, is now maximal: I find your
thesis not just wrong, but by now outright silly.
Huh? Of course it is in the interest of the company and stockholders
and they will most likely do it!

The point here is much more subtle: what I mean is that this
cluster has been created not so much by "gravity" and "repulsion"
forces as simple rational choice unrelated to inter-dependency
issues - so companies clustering in that place is definitely a
rational choice, given that Dublin is 2 million people city in a 5
million people country, they simply won't find workers elsewhere;
however, I'd hold this correlation as just correlation (with exception
of simple ability of finding most educated workers) and not
necessarily causation. That those were _other_ economic
factors - like Irish being highly educated, speaking English, and
living in a relatively inexpensive member country of EU - as the
decisive factors of that decision and not necessarily the typical
clustering factors like "being close to your customers". Speaking
in such terms, maybe Ireland as a whole country has been
such a "cluster", but then again, is such a cluster result of
"interdependency" issues or more fundamental factors, such
as historical circumstances, govt decisions, political stability,
secure property rights, corruption, etc? If the latter, I'd
argue that "clustering" in Ireland is a correlation, not
causation.
To me, the issue of manager having to face their superiors
asking him a question - "why on Earth have you decided
to locate our branch in the middle of nowhere in this country?
Why not in capital city? Can't you look at the map? Read some
stats how many inhabitants this city has and what is the
income level there?" is overwhelming: it would take long
time to explain for this manager who e.g. may have already You are wrong, because the same decisions get rationally made by
sole-owner sole-manager companies where these considerations cannot
apply. Deciding where to site an imporant branch is a BIG decision: of
course it takes a long time, *DUH*, and all sorts of factors are taken
into consideration.
Then you have had a good luck of interacting with much, much
more reasonable managers than I have had. And that includes
some managers in some big multinationals, and not just in
this country. Sure, many managers I've seen were careful,
insightful and wanted to understand this issue well before
making the decision; but I have met equally many decisionmakers
who tended to be rash, careless and too quick in their judgments,
and really not prone to reconsidering their opinion if the new
evidence came in. Sometimes I was scared silly to see how
carelessly the important decisions were made, because I knew
I may have to live with the consequences.
got his hands dirty in this industry in that country to know
that say, there's little revenue increase to be gained in
locating the facility in capital city, the needed workers are
actually hard to find there, etc. So all of these factors are folded into a huge pile of reports in
companies where such decisions are at all likely to be challenged later,
and sign-off on the folders is carefully obtained for cover-up purposes. If the local development agencies of the "middles of nowhere in that
country" don't do their job, including showering managers planning such
decisions with supporting materials, that's a bad sign: maybe due to
cultural influences foreign capital, professionals, and managers are NOT
welcome there as they would be in a relative metropolis, for example.
That was not a factor here really. Most of that has to do with
the fact that regional and local branches of govt are exceptionally
clueless and lazy (and corrupt), at least when compared to govt in
capital city. However, I've observed that they're learning, esp. in
the north to north-western part of the country. The East, as usual, is
a no-man's-land. It's also the poorest part.
To me, this is much like decision whether do much of
development in Python or MS VS / VB. "But everybody's
using VisualStudio / VB" is a simple and compelling argument:
"so many people can't be wrong", while explanations that
going Python may actually be better decision in this context
requires long and complex explanations and managers oft can
not even be bothered to read executive summaries. The issue of parallels or otherwise is by now totally secondary, to me,
to the main issue that I find your approach to explaining regional
clustering problems across industries totally, irredeemably, and
horribly WRONG. So, I'm not going to make the post even longer by even
trying to address this part. Few, besides the two of us, can be left
reading by now, and clearly our disagreements on economics are so total
that it's unlikely we can get anywhere by our discussions anyway.
I prefer to think that those are contrived issues and we rather
had some disagreements. As usual, when you leave the trivia,
and start on more complicated issues, it's not simple anymore.
I feel econ models frequently are elegantly designed
abstractions of elegantly designed problems; the problem
is how close those are to the real-world problems. At
the end of the day, it's "human action" that gets all
of that implemented. I've seen too much resources
going down the drain in completely idiotic projects
and decisions to believe managers are rational beings.

When you claim managers are acting rationally (if selfishly) to avoid
risk to themselves, you can't then justify this claim by adding that
they aren't rational at all.
But that was my attempt of (poor) sarcasm actually... I did
not mean that literally. Sorry for that.
Economics does cover, in its modern form,
both issues of agency problems (misalignment of incentives between agent
and owner) AND ones of "bounded rationality" (all the way from
asymmetric information, to transaction costs relating to acquiring and
processing information). Trying to throw economics overboard because
you can't be bothered to understand it is a kind of behavior that
reminds me closely of the "leftists" you excoriate in your signature.


I forgot to change this sig when switching to here from political
ng, sorry.. It's just a sig but still OT given the nature of the
group.

Re "throwing the economics overboard" - perish the thought!

I don't know why you came to this conclusion, perhaps
I did not indicate clearly enough I meant the last paragraph in
an ironic way. On the contrary, I have the impression that I
belong to the small minority of people who consider economics
as science. Au contraire, people oft perceive me as believing
too much in relevance of economics!

That doesn't mean I have to seee _particular economic model_
as relevant. The history of economics is scattered with such
examples, like Phillips curve or Bowley's law (my favorite book
by Mark Blaug, "Methodology of Economics", worth a ton
of gold, quotes a long litany of such broken models).

There's nothing wrong in principle about it: science is about
falsification (or at least Karl Popper told us so). I'm just wary of
what I see as excessive stressing one factor (like physical proximity)
over other, possibly neglected factors.

--
It's a man's life in a Python Programming Association.
Jul 18 '05 #145
On 04 Jan 2005 19:25:12 -0800, Paul Rubin
<http://ph****@NOSPAM.invalid> wrote:
"Rob Emmons" <rm******@member.fsf.org> writes:
Me personally, I believe in free software, but always talk about open
source. My answer regarding forcing people to share -- I like the GPL
-- and I am perfectly happy to have anyone who does not like the GPL
not to use any GPLed software. I don't feel compelled to share.
I'd go further. It's not possible to force anyone to share, but the
GPL aims to remove software from a system that instead aims to force
people NOT to share.
Nope. IMHO, GPL attempts to achieve the vendor lock-in. For different
purposes than another well-known vendor, but it still does.

It's actually even worse: the only thing you can't share on a
well-known vendor's platform is the software written by that
well-known vendor -- you can choose to share or choose not to
share whatever you or other people write on this platform.

If GPL folks had their way, it would not be possible not to "share"
_anything_ you create. It is widely acknowledged that GPL
license has the "viral" aspect of extending itself on your
software - can you point to closed-source licenses that would
have this aspect? None of the licenses I've read except GPL has
this aspect. LGPL is still a different story, though.
As the MPAA knows, people do want to share, and
forcing them not to do so is impossible without turning the world into
a police state.
What's the cost of copying music files vs cost of combining
some programs together, even in the form of e.g. using an
external library?
Maybe if Python were GPL, then Bulba wouldn't use it,
but since it's not GPL, some people find themselves much less willing
to contribute to it than if it were GPL.
Personally, I have precisely opposite impression: the OSS licensed
with BSD/MIT/Artistic/Python-like license gets contributed to a lot
simply because people like to use it and they are not afraid of
licensing issues.

When people share:

_it is not because this or that license of software used by them says
so, but because they want to for reasons orthogonal to licensing
issues_.
(I myself contribute bug
reports and maybe small patches, but resist larger projects since
there are GPL'd things that I can do instead). So catering to the
wishes of Bulba and Microsoft may actually be impeding Python
development. Yes, there are some people selfless enough to do long
and difficult unpaid software tasks so that Bulba and Bill G can get
richer by stopping people from sharing it, but others of us only want
to do unpaid programming if we can make sure that the results stay
available for sharing.


Actually, I get the impression that GPL-ed software is written by
programmers for programmers, not really for end users.

GPL folks just insulate themselves in their ghetto from the rest
of the world. More and more of the successful OSS projects have
non-GPLed licenses: Apache, Postgres, Perl, Mozilla, Python. Do you
_really_ see few contributions made to those?

--
It's a man's life in a Python Programming Association.
Jul 18 '05 #146
> I'd go further. It's not possible to force anyone to share, but the
GPL aims to remove software from a system that instead aims to force
people NOT to share.


Well said.

I do think the point is -- no one liscence fits all. The GPL
is a great tool for those that write software for the purpose of sharing
with those that want to mutually share. Personally it has the feel of
justice to me -- but that's just me.

But of course it does not fit all needs and the politics and
personalities of all developers and teams of developers. For example, RMS
developed the LGPL for other cases where it makes sense, and I think
I read somewhere that RMS encouraged the release of BSD (is that right?)
-- because that too is a help to free software in the end.

As for Python -- I think the best liscence depends on the goals of the
developers. If you want python to be infrastructure, especially, for
applciation scripting -- it's kind of nice that it's BSD like or perhaps
LGPL, on the other hand if you want it to be free software focused --
then GPL would be better. So there are many alternatives depending
on goals. You see this played out throughout the Open Source community.

In any case -- regardless of liscence -- I think Python is the greatest
and I have great respect for all those that have made it possible.

Rob
Jul 18 '05 #147
Bulba! wrote:
If GPL folks had their way, it would not be possible not to "share"
_anything_ you create.
That's generally the goal of the Free Software Foundation: they think
all users should have the freedom to modify and/or distribute your code.
Most people who use the GPL don't feel that way; they think that each
author should have the freedom to choice if and how he chooses to share
code. They just see the GPL as an appropriate way to share their code.
It is widely acknowledged that GPL license has the "viral" aspect of
extending itself on your software - can you point to closed-source
licenses that would have this aspect?
Can you point to closed-source licenses that allow using the code *at
all*? With GPL, you have the choice: either you agree with its terms on
distributing the code and then you can use the code, or you don't agree
with it and you don't use (which is still no worse than closed source).

Some people call that viral, but I think it's a distortion of the truth.
None of the licenses I've read except GPL has
this aspect. LGPL is still a different story, though.


Of course, different licenses have different terms. That's why there are
different licenses.

--
"Codito ergo sum"
Roel Schroeven
Jul 18 '05 #148
Yes, such a list is available.

I have uploaded a tentative list of contributors at
http://harvestman.freezope.org . The original list is courtesy Alex.

For the impatient, here are the direct links...

List of first authors:
http://harvestman.freezope.org/cookbook/credau.html
List of all authors:
http://harvestman.freezope.org/cookbook/creds.html
Hope this helps!

Regards

-Anand

Jul 18 '05 #149
Bulba! wrote:
Nope. IMHO, GPL attempts to achieve the vendor lock-in. For different
purposes than another well-known vendor, but it still does.

It's actually even worse: the only thing you can't share on a
well-known vendor's platform is the software written by that
well-known vendor -- you can choose to share or choose not to
share whatever you or other people write on this platform.

If GPL folks had their way, it would not be possible not to "share"
_anything_ you create. It is widely acknowledged that GPL
license has the "viral" aspect of extending itself on your
software - can you point to closed-source licenses that would
have this aspect? None of the licenses I've read except GPL has
this aspect.


Then you haven't read very many source code licenses, many (perhaps
most?) that state that if you've as much as looked at the code you're
not even allowed to write somethings similar twenty years down the line,
or anything that remotely resembles something similar. (Most do in fact
go a bit further than that, but the legality would be in question. Still
it would take you lawyers to get off the hook). Where do you think the
'clean-room approach' came from in the first place? Furthermore, you're
most often not allowed to change, disseminate, compile, discuss, etc the
code but in fact just look at it. (And when it comes to Microsoft's
binary licenses it's not as rosy as you would like to put it, read
through them sometime there's a lot more you're not allowed to do than
just 'share' it with others.)

Can you say NDA? Knew you could.

Now, Stallman might or might not want to achieve world domination, not
by sharks with lasers on their heads, but by aiming for all software to
be free software, but the GPL is actually a lot less ambitious than
that. All the GPL says is that: if you received a binary, the person who
provided you with it, must provide you with the source code that built
it. *All* the source code, not just what he happened to receive, on the
off chance that he's modified it. And as having the source code without
being able to modify it would be rather pointless, you're allowed to do
that too, it's a given. If you don't want to distribute binaries, that's
fine, and all of the GPL falls. The GPL doesn't *force* you to share
anything. It only says what must happen if you do.

And I'm rather tired of the GPL's so called 'viral' nature. Look, if
you're using my code, you play by my rules, that's called copyright. If
you don't want to play by my rules, fine, don't use my code. So far I'm
no better than Microsoft, or Sun (though that might change) or IBM for
that matter. With the GPL I'm actually not as bad as that, I'll even let
you look at the code, modify it, and distribute copies willy nilly
(though you I'm not forcing you to), in fact, I'll even *forbid* others
from taking that right away from you. If you use it, however, as a small
token of your appreciation, you'll have to also agree to not take the
same rights you had away from others.

Finally, what *you* do with *your* code is of no concern to the GPL. As
long as you don't use *my* code you can do whatever you please. But, and
that's a big 'BUT', it really irks me when people release code under
e.g. the BSD (or as has happened to me in the past, public domain), and
then bitch and moan when I incorporate parts of it in *my* software and
release the whole under the GPL. As if that was somehow 'unfair'. Look,
(and I'm obviously not saying this to the parent poster as he never
expressed any such sentiment, I'm just venting) that's what *you* wanted
when you released the code under that license. If you don't want me to
do that, then don't use those licenses, mkay.

Stefan,
--
Stefan Axelsson (email at http://www.cs.chalmers.se/~sax)
Jul 18 '05 #150

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