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The Cathedral, the Bazaar, and the Scrapheap

How Open Source can suck big time ...

How Open Source can suck big time ...

The two biggest productivity problems in the software development world today are as follows:

  1. The top layers of American corporate management went to the same schools as the top layers of the U.S. government and the two are equally half-bright.
  2. The systems that we are building are too big and are built too rapidly out of parts too small.

The cultural senility of the American two-party system may be incurable, so we'll pass on Number 1 above. Number 2 is partly the PHB 's fault, but it's also partly our fault, those of us in the Open Source community.

The PHB's foolishness is the "want it all now" approach that specifies giant systems before the first prototype is built. The Open Source foolishness is promising the PHB anything he wants as long as we get to play with our favorite open source tools. Nine guys and gals on a team all with this sort of agenda, and pretty soon you're selling season passes for the suspension bridge you plan to build out of popsicle sticks and library paste.

If you ever watched John Cleese's spoofy dystopia film Brazil, it featured a simple planetary computing environment in which only professionals had access to computers, but there were still lots of them, all the size of 1980's-style 8-bit machines with tiny black-and-white screens. The environment had focus. The focus happened to be maintaining a police state, but it worked well, and there existed the few tools people really needed, minus a lot of extraneous bullfeathers, of which the real world of computing has more than its rightful share.

What we really should be doing, us Open Source programmers, if we want to Save the Children, bring about World Peace, and insure the Universal Brotherhood of Free Software ... we should be finding ways to clean up this scrapheap of wasted human creativity that currently bloats the bulging body of Open Source.

Simplify! Let's Simplify!

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer