Culture Clash

by Simon St. Laurent

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Wired's reporting on LinuxWorld suggests that suits and hackers still don't mix well. A quote from a suit:

"They may have made Linux, but we know how to make money with it, and we just can't understand why they don't care about that."

Wired has enjoyed reporting on the divide between tech and the selling of tech before, and it's a pretty common fault line to hit.

While suits and hackers labelling each other cults is an easy target for comedy, it's worth noting that business and technology are not a natural fit - though that concept may not sit well with business-oriented people who see cash-generation as the one true paradigm for the world.

Business imperatives seem to drive an awful lot of undercooked and oversold technology, while the care that developers often lavish on their own pet projects can't possibly make sense in a strictly business ROI scenario. The business imperative is to make the most money while spending the least money; the technological imperative is more typically to solve a problem, and solve it well. Balancing these things is difficult, even in well-run companies, and even harder in a more widely distributed and culturally separate open-source world.

The suit may have a point: making things and selling things don't necessarily go together.

Do tech culture and business culture have anything to do with each other? Should they?