What Business Can Learn from Open Source (part 2)

Shall we continue?

Last time I've made coments on the Paul Graham's essay, it was about Workplaces.
Now, let's challenge Mr.Graham's views on quality and professionalism.

Being devoted evangelist of open source, he starst essay with a bold statement that [open source] is something people do themselves, for free, because they enjoy it (like blogging). Who would argue? But the following passage makes my eyebrows rising:

"The method of ensuring quality is... Darwinian. Companies ensure quality through rules to prevent employees from screwing up. But you don't need that when the audience communicate with one another. People just produce whatever they want; the good stuff spreads, and the bad gets ignored".

Isn't it too good to be true? We all know very well that the Net is full of "bad stuff" and its volume is growing exponentially. Moreover, the "bad stuff" has its own enormous audience and is flourishing on feedback. Following the essay author's line, "feedback...impoves the best work", and that equally implies for both "good" an "bad" stuff, save the specific meaning of "best work" in the "bad" contents.

Quality and joy - sure they go together, but in a much more complex way than Mr.Graham sees...

Further on, Graham elaborates on the prominent distinction between professionals, associated with the "old" business model, and amateurs - those who "work for love and often surpass those working for money".

Yes, if we define professional as the person who accepts payments [for work], (s)he is different from the amateur. But let's look more thoroughly at the definition of profession?

"A profession is an occupation that requires extensive training and the study and mastery of specialized knowledge, and usually has a professional association, ethical code and process of certification or licensing".

All checked, and what do we see?

Mr. Graham's "amateurs" turn into the professionals who "work a lot harder" and for free on something they really like.

If you do something you like but do not possess required knowledge, skills and competences, you won't be able to produce a valuable output, will you? Of course, open source provides enormous support and stimulates rapid development through communication and instant feedback, but feedback itself will hardly cover blank spots on your "professional" mind-map.

I think, what business can learn from open source is that there is no real competition between professionals and amateurs, but there is a competition between professionals, and it was always like that. Just the environment changes...

As Mr.Grahams said: "In the most literal sence,... there is nothing new in it".

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