Finding software

 
Three observations about the current state of free (speech or beer) software currently available:
  1. There is a lot of it.
  2. Most of it sucks.
  3. For any given area or program type, there is usually at least one really good free software package out there.
The problem is that even though number three is almost always true-that there usually is a free program that will do what you need somewhere-numbers one and two make it very often near impossible to find that program.  The result is that you have to sort through dozens of stupid or badly written programs before finding a good one that actually does the job you need.
 
One of the great things about the web, but sometimes also one of the worst things about it, is that the publishing entry barrier is essentially zero-meaning that any old fool can put up a website with whatever content or program downloads he wants. In other areas, like that of printed books, there was traditionally (and still is) a middle agent-publishing firms for example-whose job it is to filter out the crap and make sure that only the highest quality content makes it within reach of the consumer. (Now, looking at some of the books currently being published and sold you might not believe this to be true, but if you’d ever seen a sample of the types of manuscripts that end up in these publisher’s submission boxes you wouldn’t complain.) On the internet there isn’t a filtering agent between content creaters and content users, so it’s up to the users to attempt to find the good stuff and avoid the junk. Things like Google’s page rank and other directories and information collections attempt to solve this problem be showing users the "best" content, although it’s sometimes hard to say what exactly the best is.
 
I don’t really remember where I was going when I started this post, but it’s been sitting in my unfinished post bin for two weeks now, so I should probably put it up or something.

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