Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Open Source and Capitalism

Those two words are so in juxtaposition that it is nearly unbelievable, but yet they are in opposition and I hope that Open Source wins out. The phenomenon has changed everything from Microsoft to marketing models, from the value of code to the value of workers. The problem is that if you work onthe greatest piece of software ever to come out of the Torvalds camp, you still have to have a job. Unless of course McDonalds and supermarkets decide to offer an OpenSource meal voucher.


But no matter what Open Source is here and will continue to affect the bottom line of every company in the world. After all if you a dev house decide to use an OpenSource module or package you have to factor in the cost of implementation and support with out being able to charge for the finished product. Or do you follow the license model made infamous by Microsoft and pay for the package and then charge the extra money to your customers?

It is definitely a real conundrum but in the end Open Source serves the purpose of allowing people to contribute in ways that places like Microsoft would never allow due to politics or experience. I mean what are the chances of MS taking a new component from a tester or that a tester would be allowed to take the time to put the source on a separate machine and write the component.

Open Source though is an excellent model for the value of the barter system used in older societies. Imagine if people had to produce something of value before they got "paid." Imagine Open SOurce mechanical engineering or Open Source sales. You would have to sign up for and Open Source position in order to get food and shelter and produce something for the extras like BMWs. I'd bet people would appreciate BMWs more and value the hard work that a lot of people do. We have a unique opprotunity to get more worth out of people if we take advantage of the only thing to make certain MS couldn't defeat it. After all MS does define the tone of the world right now. Their "higher echelon greed" has turned even the staunchest of "inside" advocates against them. Ubfortunately, because of the "greatest deal ever made" MS will not be going anywhere without a fundamental change in the way people are compensated.

Until the actual producers are compensated they way we compensate athletes or actors, companies will be allowed to roll all the shit they want down hill at the average American worker. Open source owuld even mean that directors, producers, rappers and everyone else would actually have to provide a product or service before they could "hide out" in their mansions and ski lodges. It is often said that "no one shows up for a chemistry exhibition" but that's not true because one of those exhibitions was the foundation for the cure for polio. People were definitely lined up for that. They also line up to ride the elevator that "old man" Otis is piling up money with. All technology is more important than entertainment, whether it's the DVD player vs. the movie or the TV vs the show. I find video games many time smore entertaining than movies but the lead programmer has to hope that he gets a bonus or else he will make a lot less than the Michael Jacksons and Yao Mings and Andre Agassi.

I would much rather meet the nerd who invented the automatic transmission than the race car driver who can figure how not to crash. Linus Torvalds is not as well known as Bill Gates to the general public but has had much more of a profound effect on the software industry. Their positions are so intricately juxtaposed as to make one wonder who should actually be worth $50 billion. The people who work on Linux or never heard complining that they are being overlooked or underappreciated and it makes one wonder if the "gifting" of billions to a few makes for more harmony or does a shared approach do that.

As is commonly stated at MS has degenerated from the world leader to the only place left for "good old boys" to get rich. Never has there been a greater vision into what happens when some get rich and others get to do all the work. Then you throw in the "cultural" problems that occur in this type of caste system and you have 50,000 people doing more to hurt each other's "group" than help the poeple who pay their salaries, namely the users who purchase the product.

And we are the civilized ones!!!

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