Open source religion

I was pretty annoyed when I got to the bank today to deposit some money (you can see how well this open source thing is paying by the denomination of the bill :-), and found it had been ruined by Dave Rosenberg or some other religious weirdo. Now, being a religious weirdo myself, I felt like this was one step too far! I may choose to pay tithing, but I don't mark up the bills destined for my church.... I was goi

I was pretty annoyed when I got to the bank today to deposit some money (you can see how well this open source thing is paying by the denomination of the bill :-), and found it had been ruined by Dave Rosenberg or some other religious weirdo. Now, being a religious weirdo myself, I felt like this was one step too far! I may choose to pay tithing, but I don't mark up the bills destined for my church....

Religion and money

I was going to try to deposit it, anyway, but decided that the bill is a better object lesson than deposit. I can be a bit religious about open source (I feel strongly that it is the best way to serve customer interests), but as we heard at OSBC last week, customers are shelling out dollars for value, not religion. They may get interested in a product because of the license governing its use, but at some point the product's value as a product (not as a license) must prove itself.

Ultimately, then, both open source and proprietary products come down to the same calculus for business users: does this software solve my business problems?

Wrapped into that calculus, of course, are primary or secondary concerns about lock-in, cost, flexibility, security, etc., all of which bodes well for open source. But the final decision is not about a license. It's about product value. Jason Matusow (Microsoft) is right in his discussion of how standards impact purchasing decisions:

Customers don't buy the standard; they buy the solution that has value to them and they perceive value in a lot of different ways. The fact that a standard is part of it may well be a piece they consider in the value stack but it won't be the deciding factor. So it's always interplay.

Jason was talking about standards, of course, but it also applies to open source.

Again, I firmly believe open source builds up to a very compelling argument on value, but seeing this bill reminded me that while I give to charity, family, and friends without expecting anything back, the same is not true of the commercial transactions I make. I expect value in return for my cash.

Speaking of religion and open source, I'll be keynoting the Ubuntu Live! conference and have decided on "The Ten Commandments of Open Source." I'll be walking through the "Thou shalts" and applying them to open source. I think you'll find the adultery prohibition highly applicable to open source.... :-)

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