Saturday, March 26, 2005

Why Software is Better

I had a dream last night that I was a mechanic at a small town gas station. (Don't ask me where this came from - I've never had anything to do with anything like this!) Some rich guy broke down in a fancy car and I towed him into the gas station. He arranged for other transportation and left, telling me to keep the fancy car - he didn't want it. Wow! Just like winning the lottery. Or was it? I guess I could have sold it, but what I really wanted was to fix it and be able to drive it around and impress everyone. But to my huge frustration and disappointment, it was impossible for me to fix. Too many fancy, computerized parts. No way to work on the engine without tearing the whole thing apart, for which you needed special equipment and tools.

What does this have to do with software? Well, it's the opposite of what I like about open source software. No matter how complicated a piece of software is, I can look at all the pieces. I can change anything. It's all open. I might not understand it right away, and it might take a lot of work to figure it out, but there's nothing stopping me from doing it. That's an amazing power that you just don't have with anything else.

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