Thursday, August 09, 2007


Making Books Open Source

Marc Mercuri of Microsoft has written a wonderful book on CardSpace and ask others to share their opinions on making books open source. Of course, I have several thoughts...

To answer Marc's first question of whether folks in the open source community would buy his book is a hard question to answer as it depends on a variety of factors. If the book only has say twenty pages on building a Java RP where the other hundreds of pages are all about Microsoft technology then I would say no as the value proposition isn't there. Of course, if you said that building a Java RP had equal billing with Microsoft technologies then my answer moves more towards the yes column.

Another consideration is if the aspects regarding Java, PHP, Ruby and other Microsoft languages are simply a product review of open source projects that may have value then I would say no as this stuff is more than likely stuff that others would have already blogged about and wouldn't be worth paying monies for. However, if you for example compared and contrasted the approach of how the folks over at Google built RP support for Java to say how the folks over at WSO2 did then there is value because none of the industry analysts cover user-centricity are providing this type of insight.

Another perspective that open source folks may have trouble with is the notion of a half-open book and this could serve to actually cause more folks to not even consider it. Whenever Microsoft does one of their hybrid open source approaches, the community tends to think of it as questionable. Either you should make the book 100% open source or stay 100% closed.

As a book author, I know that we put a lot of hours into writing a book in which we feel will bring value to others. Usually the purchaser of a book has a different perspective and will manage to reduce thousands of hours down to a single sentence rant on Amazon about stupid shit. Consider how many Amazon reviews are posted for where a book was written by multiple authors and the compliant for giving it less than five stars was that it read like multiple people wrote it. If you happen to be one of those idiots that thinks this way, please kick yourself in the head.

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