Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes

Topics On Multimedia Technology and Reverse Engineering


Those Who Can, Do

December 5th, 2006 by Multimedia Mike

The conventional adage has held that “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” I’ve recently observed some alternative vocations for those who can’t. For example, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, carry out sociological studies on those who can in some effort to gain insight into what motivates them to do what they do.” Not especially catchy, but there it is.

If you participate in any open source software development, or even just hang out on development mailing lists, you have probably seen emails from university grad students performing some survey of open source developers. I’ve been doing this free software programming stuff since 1999. I don’t remember exactly when I first saw one of these email solicitations to fill out a survey but I do remember that I thought it novel at the time and cheerfully contributed. Same with the next half dozen or so. Eventually, I started getting that “haven’t I seen this before?” feeling when encountering such survey solicitations. This notion is exacerbated by the fact that each survey seems to think that it’s breaking new ground.

The only reason I bring this up is that I got another survey solicitation today in private email. This email was particularly irksome in that it was actually a followup to an earlier solicitation that demanded to know why I had not responded to the earlier inquiry.

As I compose this post, it suddenly occurs to me to wonder why anyone would care about collating this type of data (aside from a researcher attempting to justify his academic existence and delaying the real world activities as long as possible). This latest survey comes from people in some business and management schools. I can’t shake the feeling that there might be some businesses out there who would be interested to know what motivates open source software development in an effort to better leverage the model for their own business objectives.

Posted in General | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. lawgon Says:

    what strikes me is how ignorant they are about OSS

  2. Multimedia Mike Says:

    Maybe this is simply their (somewhat roundabout) method of learning. Academic thinking.