Monday, March 22, 2010

The democracy of open source

My criticisms of democracy only go as far as to agree with what James Madison and H.L. Menkin said about democracy. To say that if you reject pure democracy then you must prefer an dictator and that all dictators are evil is just absurd. Some things just should not be a majority vote of anyone that has an opinion just as science does not become truth with consensus.

Open Source is a meritocracy where your voice is heard relative to your contribution and against the weight of the merit of your opposition. The best part is that nobody's basic necessities are dependent upon the success of the open source project but in very limited circumstances, and money is not the primary driving force behind decision making.

Open source community in general is good at keeping communication lines open and the pool of ideas is greatly valued. If democracy to you is where a lot of people are free to give input, fine, but I don't want to hear you complain when the idea board is flooded with "make it work better", and "this sucks, you should do it different."

In my humble opinion, "democracy" is a very poor word choices to describe the nature of the open source community, or even an individual project.

Microsoft listens and then does whatever people ask for. The Linux community listens to people, but then does it right. Maybe democracy is the best form of government / organization for many reasons, but that doesn't mean the shortcomings simply don't exist. What frequently impresses me the most about the open source community is the ability to gather such diverse input without blinding people from doing what they know is most practical in principle to the best of their knowledge. I see it as fundamentally more beautiful than democracy without loss of generality for its merits.

1 comment:

Erich Kofmel said...

On criticisms of democracy, check out my blog, the "Anti-Democracy Agenda":