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InfoWorld: Engines, Steering Wheels, and Open Source

Jun 24, 2003, 09:00 (30 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jon Udell)

"The vice president of technology at a leading software vendor recently told me that he spends a lot of time wondering how open source projects can possibly work. 'You take out the internal combustion engine, yet somehow the car still runs,' he said. But my take was that there is a powerful engine purring under the hood of open source and creative programming is addictive. Part of the rush comes from the endorphins released when the mind enters a state of flow. And part comes from the peer acclaim.

"What open source projects often lack is not an engine, but a steering wheel. 'Too many programmers, but not enough product managers,' says Tony Byrne, who tracks commercial and open source content management systems at CMSWatch. Paul Everitt, co-founder of Zope, puts it this way: 'We suck at finishing work.' Writing documentation doesn't make endorphins flow. Neither does organizing a usability study, doing triage on bug reports, writing a bulletproof installer, internationalizing a product for 14 languages, or creating an intuitive user interface..."

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