LinuxWorld: Eric Raymond’s tips for effective open source advocacy

“If anyone is qualified to tell us how to effectively lobby for
the wider adoption of open-source software, it’s Eric S. Raymond.
After being propelled — much to his surprise — to sudden global
prominence in 1998 through his involvement in inspiring and
launching the Mozilla Project, Raymond found himself the de facto
spokesman for an entire movement, observed that he was fairly good
about it, and so set about explaining how and why. He briefed a
large audience at the recent LinuxWorld Conference & Expo on
these happenings, and on how the rest of us might do likewise, in a
talk entitled “Meme Hacking for Fun and Profit.”

Eric’s first step was to figure out why the 1998 effort
suddenly worked, making business interested in our community’s
software model, after nearly two decades of entirely futile
attempts. It wasn’t easy.

“In May of 1997, Eric published an essay, “The Cathedral and the
Bazaar” (CatB), explaining his theories of how free software (the
only term for it, then) gets created, and why the process creates
such good software so quickly, based on his experience managing a
piece of utility software called Fetchmail (see Resources). This
socio-technical analysis, while written to be accessible to a
nontechnical audience, succeeded only in generating acclaim among
propeller-beanie Linux users — preaching to the choir. Eric
remained better known as Guy Steele’s successor in editing the MIT
Jargon File, one of the cornerstones of “hackish” (computer
programmer) culture, and as mastermind of the shadowy,
tongue-in-cheek (or so They would have us think) Eric Conspiracy —
until January 23, 1998.”

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