There are two kinds of people, those who do the
work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group;
there is less competition there.
-- Indira Gandhi
I first started training in the art of Ninpo Taijutsu in 1978.
As one of the first three non-Japanese to train in Japan, I recall
how pundits scoffed at me, whose only exposure to the art had been
a James Bond movie. I spent three continuous years training in
Japan and have continued to return to Japan over twenty years that
have followed. The media of the time knew little of what they
wrote. Ninpo was a very new concept in the US. The popular martial
arts media commanded a fairly large audience. It was their
magazines the novice read to keep up on current trends.
I compare much of what I see in the Linux community to my
experiences in Japan. With Ninpo, everyone wanted to train in Japan
in the mid 1980's and it became sheik to fly to Japan to obtain the
gratuitous photo opportunity with the Grandmaster. You saw and
heard about it in every publication and it made the media in both
positive and negative light. The uninformed but interested media
provided information to an interested public that soaked up
everything in the popular press instead of experiencing it
themselves. Every "karate guy" in a black outfit was now a Ninpo
practitioner, and when something came out about it in the press it
was usually pretty clueless and laughable.
Do the trends appear familiar? We have pundits in the form of
"Industry Analysts" making every prediction under the sun from
"Linux is a fad and will be gone next year.", to "Linux is making
small inroads to small amounts of a divergent population of
hobbyists in northern Idaho." and every variant of the above
statements. Funny, they said the same thing about Microsoft when it
took on the mighty IBM in the 1980's.
I believe Bob Metcalfe fancies himself a pundit. He played in
the industry for many years, and now writes while we anxiously
await his retirement. He writes unflattering statements about Linux
designed to raise ire and get hits on his Web page. Positive or
not, maybe it makes him feel better knowing that people will still
respond to him regardless of the gratuitiousness of his message and
I hear from the editors of major on-line publications that the
mere mention of Linux in articles doubles their hits. Just as the
mention of Microsoft vs Linux brings on the hits.
Mr. Metcalfe, I have to say Linux and Open source is in no
stretch of the imagination a communist piece of
"balderdashery". I have the privilege of being a former United
States Marine officer. I find it offensive that anyone should
classify Open Source as such. Having traveled to, lived near or
stood guard against communist countries in my military career, I
speak from knowledge of both. Open source has nothing to do with
whether labor or the owners of the means of production own the
profit of an enterprise. Open sources deals with the components of
value in a product. Communism doesn't enter the discussion at
Think of Open Source as the town hall meeting, where people are
getting together and discussing ideas and attempting to resolve
issues of the day. It would, in fact, be the advocate of a
communist regime that would abhor any group of citizens getting
together to remedy any issue themselves without the express consent
and approval of the party head in that district.
Who do these people think they are anyway? How dare they attempt
to create something without the express written permission of the
party chief? Do they have a license to meet and resolve issues? If
not, then they are intolerable!
A party head would continue asking: How dare they think they can
write an operating system that does not have sanction of the local
chief! Under communism or a highly centralized government system
one would ask if the offender said they thought they could create
something meaningful without direct party affiliation! You think
you can just go and start your own company with our blessing? We
will crush your resistance like grapes!
Au contrare, Open Source philosophy espouses freedom.
The paradigm of Open Source doesn't signify a grassroots
socialistic movement. Open Source represents a shift in how we
think about value and work out the management of a service economy
evolving from a factory economy.
Often, I hear management use this word completely out of
context, especially when conducting business meetings and during
negotiations. Unwittingly, people lose the power inherent in their
ability to shape paradigms by misuse of the word.
For our purposes here, let me preface my use of this word by
qualifying its meaning. A paradigm illustrates a methodology or
template for intellectual speculation followed by decisive action
that results in a desired outcome. While this may border on
abstractionism, we can solidify it by the examples of democracy and
capitalism. We can see it in phonetic verses and in look/say
methods of teaching reading and spelling.
Another example of successful/unsuccessful paradigms is in the
instance of phonetic verses in look/say methods of teaching school
children to decode words to read and write the language. I use this
in the case of English and applied to the U.S. In the case of
Japanese, which is part of my ancestry, the look/say method is a
necessity for learning the Kanji or representational ideograms that
are the foundation of the written Japanese language.
The Look/Say method does not teach children to decode words
phonetically. Instead, it teaches them rote memorization of word
patterns hoping that they will never have to go outside the narrow
scheme of language structure passed on to them by well meaning, but
unaware teachers that most likely were not taught this manner of
reading and decoding themselves. The results have been pretty
devastating to the U.S. public schools in general with an entire
generation of students finding themselves suddenly grown and thrust
into the competitive job market where Harvard grads and MIT science
majors compete for the same job space. If anyone has any doubt as
to the teaching methods used approximately 100 years ago, look at
some of the well preserved, one room school houses in the mid-west
US that are fortunate enough to contain examples of the kind of
work students did. Ten thousand word essays in beautiful penmanship
and correct grammar about trade laws and how they impacted the
colonies. This was the requirement for graduating eighth grade
Products like "Hooked-on-Phonics", and "The Phonics Game" are
highly successful due to the need for this paradigm of phonetic
instruction and the ability to decode words and grasp their meaning
through deductive and inductive reasoning. Skills absolutely
essential in our technology based job market.
The word paradigm suggests a methodology or template for
intellectual speculation followed by decisive action that results
in a desired outcome. That being said, in the case of look/say
methodologies, these achieved their initial desired outcomes by
actually being conceived and brought to fruition by their very
existence. Their inability, however, to adapt and survive are
indicative of their status as unsuccessful paradigms.
Unsuccessful paradigms will attempt to repeat themselves but
eventually will be converted to the criteria for successful ones or
fade from existence. For example, how many times has a given
religion tried to restrict knowledge to a given few. How many times
has it been successful? Most religions achieve their greatest
success when they finally open up and embrace the people they claim
to serve. How many times has a decent closed technology failed? You
can name them and so can I.
Successful paradigms tend to repeat themselves throughout
history, (as in the case of democracy and capitalism). This being
said, what is the previous example of open source methodologies in
historical context? What means do we have as open source advocates
to state with complete certainty that this method works long term
and will be able to achieve the status of a successful paradigm?
The answer may surprise many and hopefully will be of interest to
"Open Source" Warfare
The T'ang Dynasty in China a.d. 618 to 905 was distinguished by the
founding of the Imperial Academy (the Hanlin), by the invention of
printing, and as marking a golden age of literature. The first and
only female ruler, Empress Wu led the provincial palace. It also
produced some of the most accomplished warriors and sages in
Taoist and Buddhist sages and warriors fleeing the fall of the
T'ang dynasty found their way to the Korean peninsula and Japan.
They found welcome ears in Japan in particular with the families
living in the surrounding Iga and Koga regions of Japan (modern
Kanto/Tokyo and Kansai/Kyoto areas.) These families were vastly
outnumbered, outraged and lacked the status in Japanese society to
bare arms. In short, a member of the ruling elite, who sought to
keep education restricted to a few select persons in society, who
controlled the means of commerce and food supplies, took exception
to the stories of accomplished warriors who had mastered these
practices inherited from their Chinese instructors. Enlightened
minds and spirits are no match for the cold steel of the ruling
elite who waged an over 1500 year campaign to eradicate them from
By subjecting themselves to the fire of battle, the martial
techniques of these families became honed by the purest fire known.
The fire of life or death combat. If a technique didn't work on the
battlefield it died with the unfortunate soul who attempted it.
These collections of successful techniques were then put to cypher
scrolls and passed from one generation to the next as family and
organizational methodology. These collections of families realized
that by working together, they could form sophisticated
intelligence networks, utilize unconventional/guerilla warfare
tactics that their pompous attackers of the military regime were
forbidden to use. The shared utilization of resources, a knowledge
base that was accessible to these families, the ability to be
adaptable and trap the enemies in their own binding codes of rigid,
static behavior, allowing the adversary to believe their plans of
knowledge restriction, intimidation techniques and domination were
successful worked to their advantage. These families continued to
thrive in Japan and eventually they found their way into Japanese
commerce and trading concerns. The names of some of these families
should sound familiar to many. Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki --
transportation, Hattori -- Telecommunications, Iida --
construction, Iwasaki (known as Mitsubishi).
Little known, is that many of these families did not like the
way that post World War I Japan was going. An increasingly
socialistic fervor that grew within Japanese military ranks made it
difficult to make a free market work. The encroachments on the
people's freedoms made it difficult to stay competitive with other
industrial nations of the world. While many of the resultant
industries which were created by these families helped in Japan's
war effort during the Second World War, many were increasingly
uncomfortable with the way things were progressing. While
maintaining "wa" or outside harmony, many had actually run
interference for the Allies. By making production output slow,
mysteriously many train shipments were blown up by "Allied
saboteurs" and manufacturing orders were lost. Misdirection was
given to military planners with far flung ideas about the "Balloon
Bomb" that would ride the pacific air streams and drop bombs on
American soil. Many made it in but no casualties ever resulted. A
farmer in Main reported cattle being scared by an explosive. All
the while these families kept in contact, shared their knowledge
base, and made plans to thrive in post world war Japan.
I've used the historical accounts of the Ninpo warriors to
demonstrate the feasibility of flexible, open source methodologies
that were the direct result of the successful paradigm brought
about as a life and death need to survive by numerous collections
of families. Feudal Japanese lords do not rule Japan from lofty
castles in Kyoto or Tokyo but the people they attempted to oppress
for so many years are the rulers of modern Japan and her economic
Question to Bob
Who is the communist now, Mr. Metcalfe?
I could go on, but I think a majority of people get my point and
will probably start to blast me if I don't wrap this up soon.
In closing, successful paradigms don't repeat themselves. They
work themselves until they cease to solve the problems that brought
them about in the first place. The Communist Manifesto occurred
during a time when power and authority over workers passed through
family bloodlines. Today, 80% of the millionaires in the world are
first generation wealthy. Child labor laws, unions, improved
working conditions and profit-sharing plans stopped the hardship of
laborers. The paradigm had no reason to exist.
Paradigm shifts begin as flexible in nature, reflect an
innovative mindset and have shared knowledge sources as their base.
Don't take my word for it, read history and find out for yourself
to see this common thread. Successful paradigms have early adopters
that eventually go mainstream. Successful paradigms -- like Open
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes,
our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot
alter the state of facts and evidence.
-- John Quincy Adams
Nicholas Donovan enjoys kernel tuning, martial
arts, and spending time with his wife and children. When he is not
programming in Ada95 or compiling a new kernel he enjoys a good
beer with friends as well.
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