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perspectives on open-source and web services

Saturday, November 06, 2004

pleasant voice from open source

looking at his chapter from "Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revoltuion", I've decided that Michael Tiemann has earned namesake of at least one of my offspring. I've often found open source advocates/evangelists lacking in market logic. most of them seem to get hung up on Stallman's 'Manifesto' and the ethical reasoning behind the open source model.

when you need to make money (it's that thing that puts food on your table, Halo 2 in your Xbox, coffee in your mug, politicians into office, and everything else into everything else), ethics are only as important as either a) the whole of the market regards them to be, or b) your customer regards them to be. if you're any kind of observer of human history, you know that particular importance now amounts to approximately jack sh*t, and jack is on the way out.

after suffering thru communist-style drivel on almost every open-source site I've been to thus far, reading Tiemann's analysis of the open source business model is like getting a clean shower after being repeatedly bathed in pigs' vomit by tribal village people from an island society still struggling with primitive tool-making and advanced motor skills.

the best quotes:

"...the freedom to use, distribute, and modify software will prevail against any model that attempts to limit that freedom. It will prevail not for ethical reasons, but for competitive, market-driven reasons."

"Ironically enough, we also disqualified managers who could not accept creating a closed-source component to our business. Open Source was a business strategy, not a philosophy, and we did not want to hire managers who were not flexible enough to manage either open or closed source products to meet overall company objectives."

"The concept of free market economics is so vast that I often like to joke that each year when it comes time to award the Nobel prize in economics, it goes to the economist who most eloquently paraphrases Adam Smith. But behind that joke lies a kernel of truth: there is untapped and unlimited economic potential waiting to be harnessed by using a more true free market system for software."

"Open-source software taps the intrinsic efficiency of the technical free market, but does so in an organic and unpredictable way. Open Source businesses take on the role of Adam Smith's 'invisible hand,' guiding it to both help the overall market and to achieve their own microeconomic goals."


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