Cathedral? Bazaar? Maybe a Simple Workshop?

by Todd Ogasawara

section of business card

Fragment of my business card

Bryan Kirschner of Microsoft's Open Source Labs blogged about what it means to be inspired by Open (in the sense of general openness) on March 23...

Are you inspired by Open?

Bryan poses three scenarios that encourages openness: Curiosit & Creativity, Economic Opportunity & Problem Solving, and Status & Recognition.

A few days earlier (March 21), internetnews.com reported on the keynote given by Brad Abrams, Microsoft Group Program Manager for ASP.NET AJAX at the AJAXWorld conference.

Microsoft Not a Cathedral; Open Source Not a Bazaar

Abrams reflects on Eric S. Raymonds oft referenced The Cathedral & the Bazaar saying that Microsoft is not the cathedral when it comes to ASP.NET AJAX but is quite transparent and "I'm not sure the bazaar analogy works," Abrams said. "Neither cathedral nor bazaar are the same in the AJAX Web space; rather there is a continuum that reaches across space."

I suggest that there is room for extrapolating a bit on both these points of view. To Bryan's list I'll add Do the right thing. Being open in terms of information in general and source code in particular often just feels like the right thing to do. Microsoft itself has recognized the value of sharing information by awarding its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) designation to those they describe as: ...are a highly select group of experts that represents the technical community's best and brightest, and they share a deep commitment to community and a willingness to help others.. And, the creation of the Microsoft Open Source Lab seems to demonstrate that they are serious about understanding FOSS better.

My take on Abrams' point that the Cathedral and Bazaar analogies may be less applicable these days is to add a less colorful but perhaps useful analogy of workshops in clear view of each other and where things simply need to be built or repaired. For years I've been trying to promote a pragmatic view of just getting work done in a heterogenous environment. The section of my business card showed here pretty much says it all for me.