…Hippies and Freaks

Many times over the past several years, I’ve heard the open source community referred to collectively as “hippies and freaks”, or “sandal-wearing, long-haired” whatevers. And for a long time I’ve shrugged it off. However, at OSCON ’06, there seemed to be an extremely large segment of the corporate crowd making similar statements… and to a room full of hundreds of representatives of the community!

There are two points I’d like to make on this point:

First, it’s kind of moronic to assume that this label actually applies to most of the open source community – at least *anymore*. Now more than ever, people who are required to wear collared shirts are being put on payrolls of very large corporations to contribute to that portion of our technological landscape preserved by people who care about the landscape itself more than the almighty dollar.

Second, the people making these statements are those that the open source community generally calls, collectively, “suits”. I have to believe that if someone currently wears a suit to work, they would probably rather forego all of the work that goes into maintaining that wardrobe in favor of t-shirts and sandals.

I noticed these same people making gross misstatements relating to the motives of open source developers as well, as did Nat Torkington, who, in response to one of these bad calls, corrected the speaker and informed him that “if it were more fun to be a gardener, we’d do that instead”. It’s nice to know that a representative of the largest commercial technical media company still gets it, and hasn’t lost sight of what makes open source happen, and what makes it work. Thanks, Nat!

  • harda

    “I’ve heard the open source community referred to collectively as “hippies and freaks”, or “sandal-wearing, long-haired” whatevers….First, it’s kind of moronic to assume that this label actually applies to most of the open source community – at least *anymore*.”

    I think “open source community” needs a definition. Are we talking about hackers, hackers + sysadmins, hackers + sysadmins + users, or hackers + sysadmins + users + downstream users (like people who use Google which is partially built on free code)? Most hackers, IMO, are rebels (hippie-like, etc…). Lots of sysadmin types are also rebels, but they hide it when neccessary. The masses can’t be rebels.

    I don’t think employed hackers are less likely to have long hair and wear sandles to work: I saw several long-haired sandal wearing employees last time I was at GoogleNYC.

    My $0.02,

    -Dave

  • http://postmodernbakery.wordpress.com/ Snowleopard

    You make it sound like “sandal-wearing, long-haired whatever” is an insult! 😉 You’re the same folks who have solar-powered houses, ride bicycles a lot, and drive a hybrid or electric car. I’m saying “you” because I’m not a member of the open source community, but we anthropologists have long hair and wear sandals, too — we just do it in countries other than our own. 😉 Rock on!