Hugh MacLeod and the Open Source Billionaires

Hugh MacLeod writes a fascinating blog and illustrates it with killer drawings over at I think he’s got a wicked wit and is a sharp observer of some of the hypocricy surrounding us. More than once I’ve been tempted to order sets of his business cards, even though they might be too edgy to share with all but a few. I note he’s recently taken on a gig working for Microsoft. Good luck with that.

A recent post really caught me by surprise: in “how well does open source currently meet the needs of shareholders and ceo’s?,” Hugh points out Open Source can’t be as good as proprietary software; otherwise “… there’d be a lot more famous Open Source billionaires out there, being written up in Forbes Magazine …” Wow! What a strange question. I think Hugh’s fallen into the common mistake of mistaking business models and software development models as related. I fumed over his proposition for some time, composing and discarding a couple responses on his site. I knew this was a “have you stopped beating your wife?” question, but I couldn’t get a handle on the right way to respond. Giles Bowkett nails it with this post. Read the whole thing, but here’s a pull quote: “Asking where the open source billionaries are is like pointing to the French Revolution and saying, “If democracy is such a good idea, how come France doesn’t have any more kings?” Because the kings were the problem.” Ouch. But read the rest of the post, too.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.