[Fsf-friends] Software, politics and ideology...

Frederick Noronha (FN) fred@bytesforall.org
Mon Jan 24 02:08:43 IST 2005

Not particularly new, but some interesting perspectives. FN

 	Cathedral and the Bazaar, The
 	Book available at http://catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/

Review: http://www.theassayer.org/cgi-bin/asbook.cgi?book=71

A pragmatists perspective of an Ideology.
by cyent on 2000-12-29 03:14:01, review #68
content better than 99%
writing better than 80%

The Cathedral and the Bazaar is justly famous for explaining mechanisms 
behind the success of Open Source software.

Its primary viewpoint is in laying bare the "inner clockwork" that makes 
the Open Source development model so successful.

Its primary weakness is that of any analytic and objective analysis.

There is an implicit assumption that only the objectively observable 
clockwork drives the process and thus discounts the role of spirit and 

Thus if you believe humanity can be explained by reductively in terms of 
cells, molecules and atoms, you will find this work satisfying.

I have lived in some of the vast spiritual and ideological upheavals that 
have trampled over most of the world in the 20th century, leaving 
pragmatic and materialistic USA in relative peace...

Thus I find Raymond's assessment of the role of the ideology behind Free 
Software a little shallow.

Yet in this very shallowness lies its huge popular success.

How can the pragmatic and materialistic USA, the main producer and 
consumer of software, be made comfortable with a methodology flowing out 
of an essentially radical ideology?

By rubbing off the sharp edges, renaming "Free Software" to a less 
emotionally loaded "Open Source".

By explicating the methodologies and mechanisms behind the success in the 
hope that one can take the mechanisms on board without swallowing the 

By merging it with American right wing individualistic traditions.

This Raymond does remarkably well. Whether you have more radical thoughts 
or are staunchly capitalistic, Raymond has done his job very well. Read 
it. Read it now. You need to read his triptych to understand what is going 

The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Explains the mechanisms that make Open Source such a good software 
development model.

Homesteading the Noosphere

Is his analysis of the property and ownership customs of the open-source 

   The Magic Cauldron

Is an excellent review of economic sense of Open Source.

Conclusion of the Reviewer

In conclusion it is well worth the read. Yes, you can, as many Open Source 
proponents do, take on the mechanisms but not the ideology.

However, be aware that beyond the mechanisms, discounted, discarded and 
undescribed by Raymond, lie also a vast sea of extremely potent 

You can argue long whether the ideologies are communistic (as many have 
accused), libertarian, or simply religious (eg. Larry Wall's Artistic 
License). Whatever your opinion is, the zeal of Free Software supporters 
does not permit a simply pragmatic explanation such as Raymond's.

Look to the (global, not USA) history of the 20th century and wonder...

What in the long run will have the most impact. The mechanisms, or the 

As far as I'm concern the copyleft on this if even more left than two 
options imposed on me. See http://www.geocities.com/cy_ent/bugroff.html 
for details of the "No problem Bugroff" license.

The above review is copyrighted by its author, and is copylefted 
under the following license: GFDL 1.1

Frederick Noronha (FN)                    Nr Convent Saligao 403511 GoaIndia
Freelance Journalist                      P: 832-2409490 M: 9822122436
http://fn.swiki.net                       http://fn-floss.notlong.com
http://goabooks.swiki.net * Reviews of books on Goa... and more

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