Guns, Germs and Open Source

Dan Woods is the chair of O’Reilly’s Open Source Business Review, a new business-oriented conference that we’re co-locating with the Open Source Convention. Like Michael Tiemann before him, Dan has taken Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel as a takeoff point for a discussion of what the long term prospects are for open source software in the enterprise. It’s an interesting read.

Dan asks the question: is this a clash of cultures in which one winner takes all, or a clash of relative equals that might lead to a long standoff? Dan was telling me today that he plans to explore this same question in a session at OSBR, Peaceful Coexistence or All-Out War, a debate in which Byron Sebastian of SourceLabs will take the “open source wins all position”, while Bob Sutor, Vice President of Standards at IBM, will take the “open source and proprietary enterprise software have a protracted struggle ahead,” position. Interestingly enough, Dan pointed out that he couldn’t find anyone to take the “proprietary enterprise software as we know it wins all” position, so he is going to have to try to debate the merits of that position himself :-)

This should be a classic debate, in which people try to argue the merits of extreme positions. Not necessarily realistic. But likely quite illuminating.