In 1997, Eric Raymond first presented The Cathedral and the Bazaar at Linux Kongress. I was not there, but I read the paper, and it struck me as no less revolutionary in thought or effect than must have been Thomas Paine’s publication of Common Sense or Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Eric turned that paper into a book, and today, I believe that about as many CIOs have read The Cathedral and the Bazaar as have read Fred Brooks The Mythical Man Month (a book that explains why industrial logic does not apply very well to software development).
It seems that Gartner has now clued in to the unsustainability of Microsoft’s monolithic strategy, thus demonstrating that they now comprehend at least some of the ideas of the open source movement that have been documented these past 11 years and that have been at work in the commercial sphere for now nearly 20 years. Bravo, Gartner!
I, too, have written a paper that attempts to update Eric’s work and reference the work of Professor Brooks in a qualitative and quantitative synthesis titled Software Industry vs. Software Society: Who Wins in 2020?. In that paper I explain how the qualitative differences between the organic, bazaar style of open source development beats out the monolithic, industrial model that underlies the assumption of the proprietary development model. And as I explained in an earlier blog posting, it doesn’t take a genius to understand how system that encourages a larger number of developers to innovate and collaborate more efficiently, producing higher quality software at lower cost, adapted equally well to markets of one and scalable to markets of billions might, possibly, usher in a new world order for a 21st century society. Nevertheless, it is gratifying to know that the smart people at Gartner are now internalizing the deep structural advantage of being infinitely and individually advantaged, which is what the scalable open source development model is all about.
If you haven’t read my paper yet, I encourage you to do so. Gartner did. Could Rob Enderle possibly be next?