Open source as a religion?

Well, I've heard comments to that effect. Believe in it, and you shall be saved. Disbelieve in the goodness of Open Source, and thou shalt be damned. While open source has obviously some good things going for it, many people also agree that it's not a solution for everything.

I have a theory: there is no such thing as open source as an entity which could be understood. It's as elusive as, say, a "mobile phone user." Which we often refer to, but at least there we do understand that there are many different reasons for a person to use a mobile phone. Companies put in a lot of money trying to understand and "segment consumers" to figure out what kind of products sell.

Open Source is really a tool for accomplishing something. The aims can then wildly differ. If you asked all hammer owners, whether hammers in general are good, you would probably get overwhelmingly positive answers - because they bought the hammer because they needed it. The same way, if you talk to people who have already made the choice of open sourcing something, you'll get positive feedback.

It's not that important whether open source is good, but it would be far more important to understand the motivations of the people who have chosen open source. I think we have different kinds of open source: "no care ware" from people who just don't want to maintain small pieces of code; "debtware" from people who think paying back to the OSS community is okay; "communityware" from people who enjoy the feeling of being community leaders; "cheapware" from companies who realize trying to keep up with a custom fork of an OSS project is way too expensive; etc. Different motivations, different kinds of open source.

Just a few disassembled thoughts. But I'm really beginning to think that we should break open "open source" as a box and then try to put it back together to see if it still fits. If open source is becoming a commodity, then perhaps it should be treated like a commodity instead of a big, large, idealistic expression of Freedom of Speech and Basic Human Rights?

(LazyWeb request: anyone studied this yet? I'm sure, but I'm too lazy to Google, especially since I have a telco starting in five... Fifth one today. Yay. And tomorrow, UK. When I get old and start to wonder where did all the time go, I'll just look at this blog and my Flickr stream and go "oh, right".)




Comments

Open Source is not only a another "hype".

It is not such a big thing for a developer, but it is a revolution for all the managers out there. It works totally different from there way of thinking. And it is also a revolution for developers who dont know it yet.

By the way: Thanks for your lecture today in Hamburg on this codeBeamer meeting. It was a pleasure to listen!

--daniel, 16-May-2007


Well, on a surface level I agree with you. But there is hype relating to open source - especially certain kinds of open source, starting with the "if you just put your software out there, hundreds of people will improve it" -myth. No. If it's crap to begin with, nobody cares. If they don't need it, nobody cares. And a hundred of other reasons.

But what I'm trying to suggest that there is no "open source" as a single entity. Some kinds of open source are more different than others, and maybe it would be good to look into the different kinds of open sources. So now that we know it's a revolution, can we get over it, please? ;-)

--JanneJalkanen, 17-May-2007


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"Main_blogentry_090507_2" last changed on 09-May-2007 14:58:28 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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