- Most Interactive Fiction is published under closed source licenses, or under no explicit license at all. Even when the source is available, this is never (or next to never) used by people to improve the works of others. Quite in general, the ethos seems to be that only the original authors of a work should change it, and that it is off-limits for others to do so. But a large part of the success of the OSS movement is based on the fact that people continually wish to improve each other's programs; it is unwise for the IF-community not to adopt this idea. Think of the quality that pieces could have if, instead of a work being released in a 'final version' by the author when he is finished with it, enthousiastic people were to continue improving it far beyond its original merits. It is only an out-dated concept of authorship that keeps us from adopting this policy.
- For some bizarre reason, it seems to be 'not done' to discuss pieces you are working on in any detail in public. Technical questions can be asked, yes; but how is it that the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroups contains no substantive discussion by authors of the pieces they are working on? What keeps authors from, say, publishing their initial 'story board' and asking for comments? What keeps them from asking for advice on how to best incorporate the theme of conflicting loyalties in their new superheroes game? I can answer those questions - it is a practice of being very closed because of the possibility of 'spoiling' the piece for your future audience, a substantial part of which hangs out on the newsgroup. But this practice is detrimental to the quality of works, most of which would benefit from continuous discussion with peers throughout the process of creation. We need to lose our fear of spoiling; hopefully this will become more easy as the number works not based on puzzles increases. (After all, good static fiction cannot be spoiled. "In Crime and Punishment the protagonist first kills an old woman with an axe then later repents his crime and gives himself up to the police!" Does that spoil the book? Of course not.)
- Witnessing the success of such community efforts as Wikipedia, one wonders why there are no similar IF projects. What is wrong with everybody being able to contribute to a piece? Obviously, software is more critically dependent on coordination than an encyclopedia; but most OSS projects cope with this by installing an organisational structure that is quite a bit more relaxed than the 'absolutist' paradigm of a single author controlling everything in order to ensure consistency. We need to experiment with projects the development of which is far more open to active participation that the projects we are undertaking now - almost all of which follow the "there is one author who does everything"-paradigm.
* I was also inspired to become a member of the Free Software Society and the (Europe-based) Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure. I had been planning to join them for quite some time, but finally came around to it today. (What are you doing to protect essential liberties?)