The Philosophy of Openness


Without a doubt, some of you are questioning my sense of judgment considering how frank some parts of this site are. (Hi, Dad!) On this page I will try to convince you that I am not rash, crazy, or naïve. This treatise is a work in process. Your comments are more than welcome.


When does openness work?

Briefly, when you've got more to gain by being open than by hiding.

At this point in time, I have not been deeply involved in any major scandals, nor have I been involved in any important project that requires secrecy. I've got nothing to hide.

On the contrary, I am trying to promote what I think is a good idea and I have to shout to make myself heard. That's not surprising when you consider that there are more than 5 billion humans on this planet.

I've heard it said that the advertising industry believes in the credo "a bad reputation is better than no reputation". Personally, I think this is going too far, but how do you argue with the fact that they are earning billions? Is it REALLY going to hurt anything if I get a bit of a rep for being frank at times? If not, why should I hold myself back, especially if it is already in my nature to be direct? Besides, it's more fun to read somebody's work if they aren't pulling their punches. If you do not agree with me, I strongly suggest that you see Figure 1.

And honestly, who is going to read these pages?

Ok, the above was the argument for not worrying about a bit of personal frankness, but what about my idea of releasing the full technical details about what I am doing into the public domain by publishing on the Web? Don't I want to patent my idea (if it works) and make a lot of money?

Yeah, I want to make a lot of money, but a patent isn't a ticket to make money; it's just a fancy way of spending it. I would be delusional to believe that someone is going to come along, see this idea, and "steal" it. People with good ideas and no money to execute them generally have to fight for years to get themselves heard by people with money. Why should this case be any different?

That's all for now. Rebuttal, anyone?

P.S. - I regret that I am not the author of Figure 1. If you are a software engineer and you need a powerful argument to deflect the PHBs, see the Software Information Memo.

--

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Erik Rossen <rossen@rossen.ch>
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Tel: +41 22 362 45 08
Home URL: http://www.rossen.ch

Copyright © 2000 until the heat-death of the Universe (thanks, Mickey!), by Erik Rossen
Last modified: 2008-10-06T09:02:35+0200

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