By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-03-08 Print this article Print

-source hot buttons"> What are some other overarching issues in the open-source community? Well, I guess the most important thing Id like you to take away is that theres still a persistent belief in some quarters that somehow being pro-open source makes you some sort of fist-pumping, long-haired Communard. And as a matter of history, I want to tell you that that impression exists primarily because of the character of some of our early advocates. But that was never representative of the community at large. Most of us are quite happy to be working with markets. Were quite happy to be working with people who make profits. And were quite happy to be working with companies like IBM and Sun. Because we know that a market economy is the only way that you sustain a high enough average level of wealth that we can afford to be artists. One thing that you said that struck me was that you believed closed-source development leads to "crappy code." Why do you think that?
You really havent heard this story before? Well, lets start with some basics. Lets take a direct, historical analogy. You know what the difference between alchemy and chemistry is? It used to be that people who studied the properties of chemicals and materials were called alchemists. And they were all about secrecy. They were all about mysticism, and they were all about concealed black art.
The occult school of alchemy didnt turn into the science of chemistry until alchemists abandoned the practice of secrecy and instead started sharing results with each other and checking each others experiments. And that was a very early stage in the development of modern science and engineering. It happened about 400 years ago. And the thing that weve discovered over the last 400 years, as weve pursued experimental science and developed engineering from an art into a craft into a repeatable discipline, is that human beings doing complex, creative work, doing design work, make mistakes. Next page: The importance of peer review.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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