There's yet another UserLand based non-debate raging about Open Source. it's drawn in so many bloggers that it's high on the Blogdex and Daypop indices. Maybe we should just not rise to UserLand's jibes. They do an amazing job of creating noise as a marketing tool. By responding to it, we're just playing their game. Most of it is just FUD to advance their own position anyway.

And it's about Open source. Inevitably Userland portrays this as some evil idea that is hyped to the max by people who don't understand software development. And that there are no successful Open source projects that matter a damn anyway. So I'm surprised nobody has come back and said that Userland is an Open Source company! Their products ship with the source to the majority of the function freely available. Doesn't that make them Open Source?

Which points up the most irritating part of the whole debate. Open source is not exactly the same as the GPL, which is not exactly the same as free, which is not exactly the same as group development. There are numerous examples of chargeable source. There are numerous examples of open source released under other licenses. Lumping everything into one big bucket that is owned by ESR doesn't advance the debate one whit.

So what's really happening here is an extraordinarily effective marketing campaign from UserLand via weblog. The basic tactic is to start an internal debate on some contentious subject by deliberately taking a provocative position. The moment other people dive in and start commenting, slip in references to your own products and why they're better than the competition. Take a position that says you're on the high moral ground and declare victory. Everybody ends up hating you for it, but who cares, you got the free publicity.

Note that there are no links in this blog entry. I refuse to add to UserLand's success at this by contributing to the Blogdex, Daypop and Google ratings. But if you're really interested, use google to find burningbird, doc searles, Joho, diveintomark.

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[ 31-Dec-01 9:29am ]