Monday, 1 October 2007

Coathangers, open source and the individual

Last week, these coathangers spoke to me.

They said, "We don't trust you."

Not at all like the friendly coathangers at Booklovers Bed & Breakfast, where you'll find the kind of coathangers you could easily stow in your luggage.

But you wouldn't steal coathangers from Booklovers (at least most wouldn't) because you'd be stealing direct from Jane Tolerton. And even those who steal from faceless corporations will think twice before taking from another individual.

It got me thinking about how brands relate to people, and how ultimately we're all brands and all individuals, and how the zeitgeist of the early 21st century is swinging right back towards to the individual, as found in community.

My thoughts were further consolidated in an engrossing conversation with Sigund Magnusson, cofounder of Silverstripe, a company that open sourced their CMS software earlier this year.

In brief (it was a long conversation), open source is not so much about free software as it is about recognising individual contributions. (There was more - just keep your eyes peeled on the site - but that was a key message I got from the conversation).

And because we're less likely to steal from someone we know, open source is theoretically free for the taking, but our desire to relate to one another in community means we want to give credit where credit is due - whether that credit is cash or just acknowledgement.

It's a line of thought I'm probably going to pursue in future blog posts. Stay tuned.

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