In response to “Where do you want to go, Aiden?”:

Dear Clemens,

I’ve never spoken with you in person, and probably never will, but I feel compelled to answer your public letter on behalf of your friend, Aiden.  I found it difficult to extract your argument from your letter, but I’ll chalk it up to not understanding exactly what open-source is, or why people would ever consider sharing the fruit of their time with others.

I have a simplistic view of open-source that might make sense to you:

I give what I can (A).  You give what you can (B).  We both gain A+B=Z.  Another hundred people come along and use it, giving nothing.  They all get Z as well.  Has this devalued my Z?  Nope.

Now, a few weeks down the road, another person comes by and gives C.  Everyone now has A+B+C=ZZ.  You and me (and the other hundred people) all gained from each incremental addition.

Not only did I gain a major return on my investment, but I also end up getting to work on something that fuels my passion and keeps me interested.  It’s not something that my company tells me to do - it’s something that I want to do.  Sure, that girl at the bar doesn’t care that there’s a few dozen people using my profiler, but I’m confident and comfortable enough with myself that I can feel good about the quality and usefulness of my work without monetary reward.

It’s idiocy. It’s bigotry.

Nope.  It’s called sharing.  If you think that giving without the expectation of receiving is “idiocy” or “bigotry”, you’re living an awefully selfish life.  I’ve managed to contribute a fair bit of my time while still managing to provide for a family and keep up the payments for my car and house.

The world of open-source is so large and its interactions so complex that neither you nor I could describe it in a single letter.  I know it’s tough for a Microsoft Regional Director to see the ecology of open-source as it really is, but I urge you to take a deeper look before forming your opinions. 

Perhaps then you might understand how symbiosis works, and how a single developer can work hand-in-hand with a mighty giant of a corporation while both can benefit.

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