Friday, June 5, 2009

Winning the war won't secure peace for open source

Open source may have won the argument, but that does not mean the world will now change, says Mark Taylor.

According to Mahatma Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win"*. So by that reckoning, it must be pretty much 'job done' for free software.

Over the past few months I have experienced the eerie sensation that no-one is fighting us any more. Not only are audiences polite, enthusiastic and well informed at conferences, they are almost all using free software already.

What happened to the critics? Even the neo-proprietarists, Microsoft and — most surprising of all — the government go out of their way to pay lip service to free software these days.

And therein lies the problem. What Gandhi failed to mention is that it is not inevitable that you win as soon as they stop fighting you. Put another way, advocacy needs to evolve once the argument is won.

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