Fleecy Moss Interview:
KOSH & the future of AMIGA spirit

PP = petty
FM = Fleecy Moss

[PP] Hi Fleecy, thanks for your agreement to be interviewed by me
[FM] No problem. It is only through sharing ideas and talking that the community can thrive and prosper. Communications and openness, in both directions are the key to a healthy platform.
[PP] World-wide renown people like you doesn't need presentations. It would be more interesting to know something more about your life: your hobbies, when did you became an Amigan and your past adventures & troubles with your Amigas.
[FM] Married to a lovely Scottish redhead, 2 boys and a baby girl. Went to university to study computer science and psychology, found myself completely bored by the attitude of the lecturers so spent most of my time either in the library or on a computer doing my own stuff. Got involved in philosophy, ecology, martial arts and stuff - searching I guess for a path that made sense.

Fell out of university, into mindless corporate IT. By day I coded reports, designed systems and by night I worked on my own stuff, radical systemts, wrote three novels, played a lot of soccer.

First Amiga was 1993 - A1200 - wonderful machine. Exactly what a computer should be - friendly, easy to use and yet allowing you to get to that power if you wanted to program. Played a LOT of games - my favourite of course being Cannon Fodder, which I still have to finish. Cannon Fodder 2 was a big disappointment to me. Sensible could really have advanced that genre but they just churned out more maps for the same engine - terrible waste.

Had a "disagreement" with my boss and then had to leave for the States, got online, discovered the wonderful Internet Amiga community and never looked back. The community is so powerful precisely because many of its members are highly talented professionals in their own right.

The last five years, with no ownership has caused the Amiga and the community to become something more than just a market. The members of the community would do well to remember that, instead of looking for saviours all the time. This platform is still here SOLELY because of the community that has kept it going and advanced it over the past few years. Accept no substitutes.

[PP] I noticed a substantial difference of opinions in the kind of conceiving the Amiga in our community. Some consider it only a more or less usefull silicon mass others preach an Amigan ideology, a very particular vision of information technology. What's your point of view?
[FM] If it was just the silicon, then the community would have died, moving onto the next piece of wonder sand. There is no doubt that it started out like that but the magic that Jay and the team put into the Amiga caused an awakening, an empowerment of many ppl previously scared of the technology age.

It has become much more, definitely a philosophy. Never settle for second best. Power through elegance and simplicity. The hardware and OS just provides a door, a means of surviving and working in the digital universe. It is that that makes the Amiga so much more than a market. Conventional businesses just don't understand that what makes the Amiga isn't a bunch of patents, or other technology partners. It is something much more powerful.

[PP] a) How would you explain to an alien the Amiga philosophy?
[FM] Don't know - I don't speak alien ;-)

The Amiga philosophy can be summed up as personal empowerment. It provides a tool that allows anyone to really do what they want to do, whether it be just play games, use applications, configure their system, replace key parts or develop themselves; and it does it in an elegant, intuitive way. It really is the lego of the computer world.

[PP] b) Seen the present circumstances, would you recommend anyone to buy an Amiga Classic rather than a PC or Mac?
[FM] When you buy a computer, you buy it not as a fixed function machine but for what it can do, the applications, its hardware capabilities. Could I recommend to a family on a low income that they should buy an Amiga for its huge and varied amount of kids software? Could I recommend it for a businessman who needs to interface and integrate with his clients in the businessworld?

The classic Amiga is five years old. The owners have done little to encourage or stimulate the developers, retailers or magazines. Most ppl today to get their Amigas updated with all the community software need to really understand their system. We still don't even know what future, if any the classic Amiga has. The very companies on who we as users depend have cancelled their plans or are redirecting their efforts.

As much as I hate to say it, I would have to say no.

[PP] Please give us a brief introduction to KOSH: what's KOSH? How and why was KOSH born?
[FM] KOSH stands for Kommunity OS and Hardware. It is an attempt to create a platform that is owned by and serves the Kommunity, as opposed to the other way around. KOSH accepts that the Kommunity is the most important part of any platform, and that its talents, passions and loyalty are the greatest resource. The Operating System and Hardware are just the core around which the Kommunity grows and develops.

It has been in the making, in some aspect, ever since Commodore went down, with many realising that the Amiga community could never rely on a single owner to keep it alive and healthy. When my contract was not renewed by Amiga Inc, many people in the community contacted me and said that now was the time to act, that they were willing to put in whatever effort it took to finally have a platform that supported a community and not the other way around.

KOSH was thus born. An attempt to create a REAL next generation platform that would be owned by the kommunity of users, developers, journalists, academics and a few investors, but in a proper balance so that the kommunity was alwasy the most important. Very quickly it saw ppl from the Mac, Linux, the PC, Be and the Amiga coming over to it.

Now we have to deliver. Our website www.kosh.net and our mailing lists bring the community together and allow information interchange between the small development groups and the growing community. There are no secrets, no radars to fly under. We are proud of our kommunity and what we are trying to achieve. Together.

[PP] What kind of relations exist between KOSH and Amiga?
[FM] KOSH is a brand new platform and organisation. There are no formal links with the Amiga or Amiga Inc. Informally, KOSH applauds the Amiga philosophy as created by Jay, Carl, Dave and others, and then developed by the community itself. We have also learnt a lot from the chequered commercial history of the Amiga. The kommunity cannot exist without the platform, and the platform cannot exist without the kommunity. Continuity is the key, of ownership, strategy and vision, and the honouring of each part of the Kommunity. We will not make the same mistakes as have been made with the Amiga, or with Linux, or Be or the Mac. Since shareholders, profit, dividends and politics are not part of KOSH, then we can avoid the pitfalls and concentrate instead on the real issues, the platform and the Kommunity.
[PP] We are facing a project utopian in its targets and very concrete in its development. The structure seems to be very well framed and it's sure that, if successfull, it will be taken as a model by the whole commercial world... And yet, it's just this that doesn't convince me.
Give 10 good reasons to believe/invest in KOSH.
  1. because you want to
  2. Kommunity is everything
  3. a platform must be more than a market
  4. because you as an individual can make a difference
  5. sick of being told by companies that they know best
  6. Linux has proved that a kommunity effort can succeed
  7. effort and loyalty should be rewarded as much as capital
  8. Those who live, work and play in the kommunity are better protectors of it than companies whose only reason for operation is to make money
  9. because in ten years time you can tell your kids you were a part of it
  10. because it's fun
[PP] The Amiga Ideology prescribes that all changes in the information scenario have to come from 'below', every improvement has to be a result of an 'imposition' by the community, fully aware of its importance and tied together also by a correct, fair and impartial information. Is KOSH a child of this belief? If yes, why? And how will KOSH preserve or increase the conscious Amigan community?
[FM] KOSH is very much a child of this Jungian "collective unconsciousness" model. Traditional companies pay millions for consultancy services to go out and interview users and markets. For a Kommunity based platform, this is unnecessary. Loyalty to the kommunity creates loyalt to the platform. By allowing feedback structures to exist and then empowering them, they grow, evolve and become the collective mass, almost a taoist matrix, in which each person is the most important and the least important at the same time. An artist knows much better than a graphics engineer how they want their system to work. By providing feedback and equality of roles, both are able to excel and the platform and kommunity as a whole are enriched.

The question of the Amiga community is something else entirely. KOSH is a brand new platform. The Amiga community currently follows the classic Amiga computer. I believe that the Amiga community has to ask itself the question, just what does "Amiga" mean, and then act upon the answer to that question.

[PP] Is there some support plan for Magazines (in particular for on.line ones)? ;-)
[FM] That is the beauty of KOSH. If on-line magazines want to form or get involved in KOSH, then they come to KOSH, form a working group and define what they want themselves. KOSH aims to be completely transparent. We don't pretend to know your jobs, or what you want or how you operate. You as journalists come and become a part of KOSH. Classsic Piagetian development. Accomadation and assimilation. We are the sum of all bodies and the total of all souls.
[PP] I read on the KOSH site (www.kosh.net): "ownership of the company will be in the hands of the community". Forgive me, is this the same as "Power tothe masses, users all over the world, join"! :) May be one day we'll read your name in history books beside Stalin's... ;) Joking apart, do you think that the same world that allowed Uncle Bill to sell his costly pulp will be able to make out such a message?
[FM] It doesn't matter in the end. Ppl will come to KOSH because it gives to them what they want, and they can give to it what they want. The commercial world only goes where the money goes - we go where the kommunity wants to go. Being owned by the Kommunity and not the markets frees us from this chain.
[PP] Is there some relation between the KOSH project and the 600 Mips Impulse Coldfire Multiprocessor system by ITA Manufacturing?
[FM] Drew Tarmey is an active member of KOSH. KOSH though is about empowering developers. It is being designed to be hardware independent. This allows for hardware developers and users to chose from standard PC machines all the way to exotic custom buses and processors.
[PP] The fact that KOSH (as a company) will be managed by the community, means a general interest of every user and a mature awareness of the importance of everyone's own role. These basic requirements have been, by now, appanage of small communities.
Paradoxially, the success of KOSH could become its weakness, causing the integration of unaware and little motivated users in an active and competent community....
A decline in the quality of the users would give space to demagogy and to make KOSH an instrument for the benefit of the few.
[FM] This is true, and always a danger. This is why we are constantly reviewing, debating and reinventing ourselves. At the moment, the kommunity split into 4, with each electing a single rep who then pushes the kommunity forwards gives us an elected, benign dictatorship. In this, ppl get to know and trust an individual but that elected individual then gets to push the whole process forward on his/her own.

This may work and it may not - our greatest strength is that we can reinvent ourselves if we see that it isn't working. The great strength of the OS is that it just provides an environment in which each and every person can customise and develop their own object sea. We provide the palette and the users provide the imagination and construction, at any level that they wish.

[PP] Forgive me, Fleecy. I'm sorry to be so critical about such a worthly project like yours. And yet I have to be. It's because I hope that also my objections will contribute to bring this good project towards perfection.
[FM] Not at all. This is PRECISELY what KOSH is about. We don't pretend to have all the answers or know everything,and we won't lie to you that we have your interests at heart when we really have our own. Only together can we grow.
[PP] A solution exists: to destroy the indifference system, maximizing the size and then quality of the community... To achieve this we have to promote the instruments suitable for the growth of individual consciuosness, magazines in first place. Are there support plans for dedicated KOSH products pubblications?
[FM] I can write but I am not a journalist, I am a developer. Many journalists and users have got involved who are not developers but who want to contribute in some way. This is the place for them. KOSH is all people. If a problem exists then the ppl interested come together and create the solution. KOSH also needs to support companies and to allow a market to come together. As an organic whole, the kommunity responds and adapts to the needs of the Kommunity.
[PP] Among the Amiga kommunity exists a unmeasurable percentage of faithfully users with a too limited vision, only towards Amiga, without any longing to other systems or wishing to roll up their sleeves working for KOSH. What would you say to them?
[FM] Ppl must do what makes them happy. If that makes them happy then theymust follow their own hearts. For some time the Amiga has become a more closed, inward looking community. It often also looks for saviours, a company to charge forwards and save them. ...and yet the Amiga community is THE community that has worked to keep itself alive, write new software, make new hardware to keep the platform alive. It is a connundrum. As far as KOSH goes, it is something completely different. Nothing even exists for it yet apart from a website and a few documents. Ppl can get involved as they like. Again, they must do what makes them happy.
[PP] d) Ok, at a "philophical" level KOSH is the utopia all of us would see carried out. On the practical side you (I'm tempted to say 'we', considering that I'm hourly more and more interested to have a share in this project) will need investments. Who, at present, finances? Have you already received any offer?
[FM] We have had offers, and some from a few companies. However, they require more than good intentions. Also, the structure of KOSH is still being debated, and ppl are stilling arguing for a complete GNU/GPL opensource model. I will be working more on this over the next month or so.
[PP] e) I agree with you. Tell me the truth, my friend, after the last disappointment do you still believe in Gateway's projects?
[FM] QNX are a great company, and the evolving Digital Convergence market will see a giant leap forwards in integrating computers and appliances into ppl's lives. Old models need to be broken down - it is the information and the desire to use it that is now more important. The opportunities are still there, although the field is becoming more and more crowded with many big names entering the fray. I do have my opinions but none I feel comfortable with sharing without the services of a good lawyer.
[PP] f) The problem is: Amiga exists, we can touch it, it's concrete. Kosh is a new dream. Those who have been dreaming for a decennium, by this time are too resigned (and angry) to support KOSH. There will be the need for more help. How much interest, do you believe, will KOSH gain among users of other alternative systems (BeOs, Linux, Mac...)?
[FM] KOSH isn't about any one platform - it's about ppl who really like technology and who have a certain view of the universe getting involved to produce and own the platform that they chose to use. Of course it doesn't exist yet, and it may never exist. We aare just determined to put some effort into seeing whether it CAN exist. This is who we are.
[PP] g) Have you already planned the features of KoshOS? What will KoshOS take from Linux, what from Amiga and how much from WinTrash... };) Will every application need to be rewritten or recompiled for each harware used, or something similar to a Java Virtual machine will be implemented?
[FM] KOSH is an environment, an object sea that provides services. As such it is completely open and customisable. Developers will be able to create anything they like for it, slowly populating and enriching the ecology of the object sea. As such, developers and users can borrow from any platform they like or go off on their own. KOSH is like a compost bag ;-) Ppl buy it and then plant the seeds they want to create the plants they want. We are not about forcing anybody to do anything.
[PP] h) How could I help you? And how could AmiWOrld help ?
[FM] Get involved. Find out what your readers want out of a system, what applications they want to run, how they want to be running them. All this information, distilled down, is exactly what we want for the design teams. Apart from that, just stay interested and when/if we get KOSH 1 out then see what you think - that time will be the true birth of KOSH.
[PP] And yet, I'll offer my best, give all the possible and embrace the project. Tell me how I could help you. I'm no skilled specialist, but my editorial-journalistic experience in AmiWorld. It's a few months I'm working on my plan. A new magazine addicted to the investment of the ideal heritage of Amiga's philosophy towards alternative systems. After all, Fleecy, it seems that I'm aready working, without knowing it, for KOSH...;)
[FM] Just get and keep a community of ppl who are really interested in something better than what exists. KOSH may not be to everyone's tastes, and there are always going to be detractors. What you describe above sounds a great idea and if I can help you, then let me know.
[PP] In this cauldron of alternative systems, with all these attempts to emerge, is there really a place for KOSH?
[FM] Yes. We are after creating both a next generation organisation and a next generation platform. Many claim that they have or are working on both but the facts just do not bear them out. Almost every commercial OS inexistence is a direct descendent of theTuring/Von Neuman model, and every company follows an almost mechanistic code of operations. To KOSH, Next Generation involves moving from the mechanistic to the organic, the kommunal, the distributed.

All adventurous spirits are welcome.

[PP] Beyond al my critic assertions (my job is just this, criticism!;) ), my compliments for your not giving up, for your willing support an utopian vision of information technology that, even if not fully successful, will surely contribute to let emerge the forces that will anyway give a chance to improve the technological scenario.
[FM] Without criticism, peer review and a good old slagging, we are all just islands, floating around and pumping our egos. I hope this interview is interesting to your readers - it has been a great help to KOSH.

Click here for Part 2 of interview


Main Translator: Joachim Thomas (ATO)
Proof reader: Ciro Scognamiglio (ATO)

Thanks to Luca Danelon of Interactive (www.amyresource.it)

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