Saturday, April 12, 2008

open source in curriculum - good thought

kicked me off thinking: Dude!How many of the new kids passing out the engineering colleges know the true impact of opensource? For that matter, did I know about the impact until a few days back? I don't think I really did!

My 2 cents on "the essense of Open Source":
A bit of background: I love this statement I picked up in some novel long back: "there are two kinds of people: the pianos and the piano players". I love another saying from my home state Kerala in India "if you are at the age of 18 and not a communist, you don't have a heart. if you are the age of 30 and still a communist, you don't have a brain!". Time for an confession: Being in kerala, I have been thru the kerala philosophy.. Boy! does it not feel good to throw it out? :) Now, I dont usually speak political things in my blog, but you cannot speak of opensource without one of the extreme feelings in your heart.. I hope most of my readers feel the zeal of "yes! this is way things should be" when they hear the term "open source"..

I think of open source and community as a nice way of doing things -> a more realistic ideal of sharing, living and let live, with the right checks and balances, than the "Utopian" concepts of Karl Marx. Open source is NOT communism. it is lot better! it is lot real! it is lot correct! if I am a zealot of Open source, I'd say - All software should be open source. I am not one. I do my work on proprietary software, come home, in my free time tinker along with things, pass what i learn to the world when i can. I love tinkering with things. But that is what it is all about rt?

Summary: learn the good, do the good, share the good! if the good is good enough then it will be accepted..

Corporates and Open source:
I work for a service company, and in that position, have had the fortune to work with some product companies I have admired. In fact majority of my resume, if I manage to take time and write one, would be my work on closed source products. But dreams of free and open software is like a simmering fire some where in the back of my mind.. I have since learnt over time to understand that world is not filled with, what I'd call,"nice people". Few folks want to grab other's work and claim their own, steal and not share and the likes.. But still, this is the very few..

Every organization is defined by a simple bottom line: Money. They lived with the constant fear of not making enough money to keep their stake holders happy. Now, I don't blame them for it. I buy a piece of land, put couple of coconut trees, i do expect to get coconuts - agreed that software is not exactly coconuts.. even then, I don't share it coz i am scared I'd loose my Money..

Ask anyone in an organization; the bottom line of decision is always be "cost" Vs "benefit". The exact nature of cost and benefit may vary - they need not be monetary in objective always (yes, even within organizations!).

My feelings on Open source:
I am not a financial person. I have been looking at taxes - in fact they look so tough to me, that I'd rather spend 60 dollars at H&R block to get them done with.. my friends usually laugh at me, and i'd cook up some new reason as to why it is difficult for me to do the taxes. I just love living the life! But at my work, I cannot use the nonchalant attitude I live with. Similarly, at home, I dont use the strict logic with which i work! at odds with most things I guess..

I don't like "cost" vs "benefit" deciding things. I like "emotion" deciding things.. the sheer adrenaline junkie who like to crack a problem just for the heck of it.. I don't care who, if ever uses it. I just need to solve the issue and get it out of my system. I cannot sleep, eat, live normally without thinking about a problem which is not solved.. The nice part is, I do know people who are like me.. so i have something of a camaraderie with like minded folks.. Good!

open source is my solution to normal office work. How ever, my college life never prepared me for it. I lived in the utopia that i could do what ever i wanted in open source. This is generally not the case - u do need to think of certain aspects of your parent companies also. I loved the Hacker Spirit -> before the news media decided to make the word apply to the mythical "super wiz who use some poor schedule-pressured coder's mistake against the world of users who use the product". I love the "can do" attitude. I love it when some tells me "Nishanth, do u have a min.. wanna see what i got running?" I love to walk down, and see this neat setup where his board is plugged to his laptop with USB, see RNDIS doing network. i am like "wow.. that is a neat thing to think of .. i think many will find it useful.." I admire such people.

Truly, my essence today is to take a balance approach.. there is many problems out there without a solution.. I love solution.. at the same time stay away from issues which conflicts with the interests of my companies... I know many would call me "lackey" and other "not-so-nice" words.. but it is a good approach, in fact i wish i could go to Harvard, and learn about this thing which people call "open source"... all-over-again...

I do not want patents for my thoughts and nor am I money crazy .. I just love the feeling of a free bird.. writing the code for things I enjoy and I love to share those out..

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