Hm. But I imagine bridge-building tools aren't free of charge, so I'm not sure if the analogy helps me. It tells me more about how building programs is not like building bridges...
If we put the same amount of afford into bridge building tools then we did invest into information transportation tools (think of all the miners that minded all the copper that was used to make the cables that where needed to power the routers that make it possible that you can read my words right now) it might get possible to provide bridge building tools by everybody to everyone who is willing to play 15 EUR per month.
I'm going to read that as 'mindful of' rather than 'worried about', because the latter sounds like you know something about my financial situation (or my father) that I don't. :)
Do you have children of your own? If you do and you are not in the constant state of mild worryness you are not very close to the average parent and quite lucky :).
Hm. That ('complete and utter cow poo') would be a step down from what I was aiming for: to put what I'm doing in terms that he can understand without distorting them unnecessarily for the purposes of simplicity. My dad's a smart cookie, albeit with little direct experience of FOSS development.
That's the catch. You can't understand FOSS if you don't understand that the interwebs have turned our world up side down. Until about 100 years ago moving information from A to B was hard and involved a lot walking and riding. Is some cases you had to wait a few months for all the snow to go away. Getting food instead was easy. (well, compared to traveling) You went outside and collected or hunted some and you where fine. Try to do the same in a modern City without getting the police after you. Ofc, money will solve that problem but a proper war would cause problems for anybody that lives in a big city. That might be the reason why we don't have any big wars close to mega cities anymore.
Another thing that has changed and are needed to allow you to give software away for free is the frightening increase of efficiency of farmers (or food maker in general). In the western world a single farmer can make the food for hundreds of ppl. If I would be a farmer I would be a tiny little wee bit angry of ppl that get rich with software. I would even go so far to demand getting software for (nearly) free. But here in Europe only french farmers are allowed to be demanding, so I properly wouldn't anyways.
The whole FOSS thingy tells you more about the society we live in that it does about software.
I like the phase space analogy, and I've used it in a few of my own talks. But that wasn't really what I was aiming for here... the notational convenience is more like a better vehicle for navigating the phase space, taking you further than before, and in shorter time.
The whole point of information is that it can grow and accumulate (Thanks DNA!). You are not just getting further then before, you create the tools to be used by ppl to build a whole new continent for you to explore. FOSS is a lot more selfish then it might look to the untrained eye.