Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fads can't last so long

There are certain inevitable cycles in the trade magazine writing business (perhaps they are not cycles, but just recurrent themes). Many of these are of the "is-not, is-too" variety and one persistent one with FOSS is the "FOSS is a fad, FOSS is not so hot, FOSS is not going anywhere" which is then met by the usual rejoinders about market shares, data on bugs per 1000 lines of code, or whatever stat it is that turns you on. Here is a rejoinder to a "FOSS is a fad" claim that accurately points out that FOSS can hardly be a fad as it has been around 40 years. But in a sense, the "FOSS is a fad" claim was inevitable given that "open source" was promoted as such a "innovation" and "departure" in the first place. In doing that, the rhetorical advantage, I suggest, was handed over to the proprietary camp, who were then able to paint themselves as the established model, and put themselves of being the pickers and choosers from the offerings of this upstart. The history of computing suggests that instead, proprietary software was the disruption, the new business model, the radical departure, the hijacking, the intrusion or whatever else you want to call it. Falling into the trap of donning the radical robe when it comes to FOSS ensures that you're always having to argue for your legitimacy. Or so I think.


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6:26 AM  

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