Who's Your Dealer?

The mapbutcher thinks it’s OK to get hooked on proprietary software:

People are interested in the ‘express’ editions because on the surface of it the marketing works on them, they’re familiar with the brand and are attracted by the ‘free’ carrot dangling from the end of the stick. Open Source software starts from that position – it’s already free so open source projects need another carrot to get us hooked.

To which I can only say “Simon! Look at yourself in the mirror, man! Do you want to end up whoring yourself down on Dalgety Street to pay for your ESRI habit?”

OK, metaphor is tricky and fun, because there’s so many ways to approach a metaphor. And for this one, it’s easy to get distracted by the “drug” side, but the point of my metaphor is not that addictive drugs put you in a subordinate relationship to the drug (though some do) but that they put you in a subordinate relationship to the dealer.

The reason we can all survive and function in society despite our crippling addiction to oxygen is because oxygen is free and plentiful. The pusherman isn’t trying to hook new customers because he believes that drugs are wonderful, he’s doing it because he wants their money.

Software is “addictive” to organizations. Once you choose a piece of software and implement it, you’re going to be “addicted”. It’s going to be hard to change. There will be withdrawal symptoms. Given that fact, what kind of software do you want to use? Software that is as free as the air you breath? Or software that is only available on terms dictated by someone else?

Your choice. Your future. Your life.