[nSLUG] Re: Article on why monoculture gets picked

Mike Spencer mspencer at tallships.ca
Fri Apr 27 02:19:39 ADT 2007


> The chain of experience is that these beasts [CIOs/CTOs] read CIO
> Magazine and believe they are educated and up to date.  They look at
> Microsoft or Apple or other vendors and see organization.  They
> learn about the zoology of open source by word of mouth and their
> own research and they conclude it is too organic, and chaotic.

And they're right.  Much human activity is chaotic in the colloquial
sense and, if very many people are involved, probably in the
mathematical sense, too.  There's an intrinsic conflict here.

The whole point of hierarchical organizational structure lies at the
center of a constellation of efficiency, control, predictability, risk
aversion, externalizing internal diseconomies and the like. And while
software itself embodies the epitome of this sort of thing, the
cooperative and volunteer methods that produce most FOSS is orthogonal
or even wholly antithetical to it.

It's quite reasonable that managers embedded in the aforesaid
constellation find FOSS scary, silly or incomprehensible.  So what's
to do?

Creating an image of FOSS in general or, say, a single Linux distro
that makes it look like the controlled, efficient product of
hierarchical organization is going to require a lot of body filler to
cover over the holes before the shiny coat of candy apple
tangerine-flake lacquer goes on.

Herding or cajoling all the very diverse volunteer hackers into
following some strategic organizational plan for a systematic
rationalization of all or most of FOSS (or Linux) can only, AFAICS,
result in getting some fraction on board for the SRSF (Systematic
Rational Strategy Fork) of whatever. :-)

Wasn't this the original goal of Red Hat, to make an "enterprise"
distro that had about it the odor of corporate sanctity?  And what we
got in the long run was, well, Red Hat.

I think we already have local foci of (more or less) strategic
organization, of which the Linux kernel, major distros and several
utilities are all examples. Some of them are even rather stable. :-)
But I think that's the best you can hope for without stamping out most
of the juice and energy in the quest for a stylish straightjacket that
will be attractive couture in the corporate and organizational
marketplace.

I have no axe to grind on this matter but I do have passing experience
with a project where the buyer demanded eye candy at the expense of
features and qualities of value to the eventual users.  If there's a
tipping point, it will come [baldfaced assertion] when enough smart
and courageous tech managers have adopted FOSS and are seen to be
winning in their respective playpens.


FWIW,
- Mike

-- 
Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~. 
                                                           /V\ 
mspencer at tallships.ca                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^


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