Thursday, January 15, 2009

pushing the Titanic with a paddle

It is a simple equation, change one computer user to use open source at a time.

A single user doing personal computing usually has no problem seeing the light of change. A small business might also realize the benefits of open source applications. Schools, larger businesses and governments are reluctant to change because the cost of change is not just measured in money spent. It is not only the cost of new software, training or workflows. It is changing the minds of people all entrenched, networked and efficient at doing things as they stand. Everybody agrees that to outfit a larger concern with open source software you have to reset the mentalities of all the execs, management, support techs and work staff. This is changing the tools by which business is done. Retooling takes time and costs money.

Because of entrenchment, we have given in to teaching the next generation to follow suit, to continue doing business with the same tools, the same methods and projecting the same outcomes. Today we see that many have over stepped and over reached to the ruin of business itself. So, to make adjustments we are asking a new generation to strive to use the same tools and methods in new and creative ways.

We have outlawed the use of lead in consumer products, but the promise of the possibility of turning lead into gold still gives us reason to teach lead use to each new generation. This is true with coal and oil and all the chemicals, processes and products derived from them. To just abandon them, stop using them, is too big a change. It is unthinkable not to use them and to find alternatives puts everything we have now in jeopardy.
The American way is at stake and the way we live and do business, what we value....................

Meanwhile in the background, in diverse corners of the globe the much envied and coveted ways and means of doing business and education by which we have promoted and leveraged indirect authority and influence, is slipping as great quantities of peoples are realizing open source ways. Solar power, wind power and open source software can be had and used without war and without threats of war, without treaty violations, without patient infringement.

Oh, and by the way, some folks have invented the almost neutral backyard nuclear power generating station (still being tested and proven) so nations wanting a big political leverage/physical disaster waiting to happen doomsday device should reconsider. I don't endorse nukes, but who am I, right?

The problem is who makes the bucks? Who controls the revenue stream from the sale and use of the tools of education and business? I know this is the fact. Schools contact me all the time wanting me to attend because having been guided through their coursework at great cost to me means I've become qualified to obtain employment to be able to pay them back. If I have the right stuff, I could download the same material, learn the same knowledge and be equally able to do the work. Seems being qualified to work is a matter of paying some sort of dues to an approved institution. Then if you don't live here and got the education and skills, you can come here and work, not many questions asked. That element called the "right stuff" is rampant among people struggling to improve themselves and their nations. They won't forever endure the deals from Microsoft. MS was so worried about the One-Laptop-Per-Child program because the laptops was not using their software. MS should have been about putting solar arrays in those remote and diverse places so that kids could power those laptops and have lights, communications and pumps for drinking water, etc. Allegiance to a brand-name may grant limited opportunities but most often leaves you subject to the will of your benefactor. Believe me, mutual benefits mean you take a little less and give something in return. Now you must fight for rights, control and destiny's future. It's the give me a fish or a fishing pole/net scenario.

Don't mean to point fingers and name names, just to state principle from a point of view. Business should ask if a person has word processing skills, then what software. Using Open Office should not disqualify one from working a job using MS Word. If the job requires advanced or MS Word specific skills then say no or provide training and be done with it. Businesses have gotten out of the habit of making experts and prefer to buy an expert, trained and experienced already. To follow the just do the work trend, we've eliminated training for specific skills, research and development, engineering, and now manufacturing. We've become corporate HQ's pushing virtual paperwork for warranty, insurance, maintenance agreements, and law offices to protect patients and copy-right violations. Oh gee, no wonder average folks can't find work? You need a 4 year degree minimum to do anything. The infrastructure and substructure of business is swallowed and overshadowed by the superstructure.

The pyramid is built for the top stone only and is the monument of a single self. We ignore the fact that it is a death chamber and grave stone, while an engineering marvel, contributes nothing to the livelihood of the neighborhood except slavery in the past and tourist dollars today. Ever wonder why it is ideal to have a hermetically sealed stainless steel casket to bury a lifeless decaying corpse that will never, ever be used again? I don't need no stinking pyramid, got my own millennium time capsule! I will preserve my memory, I will defy even the dust I am destined to return to. It's my dust, darn it, my molecules, they must not be mingled, blended or dispersed!!??.............

We have been misdirected in many things, sometimes too much. In spite of all our experience we still can't admit a wrongness about our ways. I don't think anybody in the Open Source community wants to totally dismantle and decimate all we know. But what we would like to see is new ways to see and deal with problems that pledge our world. And what we are realizing is that fighting for the rights to have and use old tools and knowledge is a time and resource and people waster. We would like to see education improve life around the world and not used as a political weapon or means to enslave with ignorance and misinformation. Open source is a way, like solar panels and wind generators, to embrace and use what we already have.

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