Tag Archives: review

Thoughts on Evgeny Morozov’s “The Meme Hustler”

Here it is, if you’re interested: http://hfoss-fossrit.rhcloud.com/static/books/evgenymorozov-thememehustler.html

Published 2013

This article is entitled “The Meme Hustler,” and it’s all about Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media.  The articles serves to analyze O’Reilly through the lens of his published work.  Morozov tears deep into O’Reilly, as he attempts to show that O’Reilly is actually a bit of a self-perpetuating monster with flawed ideals and too much power.

The Good

  • Clear and consistent voice, an easy read.  Not super-academic or dry.
  • Stays focused on picking apart O’Reilly’s actual words instead of simply attacking him out of opinion
  • Provides context by mentioning the people around O’Reilly (friends, foes, and influences), like Richard Stallman and Alfred Korzybski

The Bad

  • Progresses chronologically and conceptually, which can be confusing
  • Ends abruptly
  • Not a clear indication of a specific point to be made other than “This guy is kind of awful”

I’m still wondering…

  1. What does Tim O’Reilly think of this article?
  2. Just how much influence does he realistically have in government and politics?
  3. Who is O’Reilly’s main, current opposition?  Is there an anti-O’Reilly with a similar amount of power?

What I think…

I liked this article.  It stuck to the facts, and Morozov is clear about exactly what he doesn’t like.  Every section of paragraphs serves to show something clear and focused, with plenty of quotations from the man himself.  Morozov thinks that O’Reilly is a bit of a madman, but in Morozov’s defense, O’Reilly isn’t doing himself any favors.

Morozov attacks his topic from multiple angles, and while I would have love a better organizational scheme for these angles, they are there nonetheless.  I learned about O’Reilly’s philosophical roots, his vast self-marketing resources, and examples of self-contradiction abound.  Clearly, this author has done his homework.  Actually, he does talk about that a bit in the author’s notes at the bottom of the page.

Anyway, I wouldn’t take this article as the definitive guide to Tim O’Reilly.  Everyone has bias of course.  What I will say is that Evgeny Morozov has done a wonderful job of saying his piece without sounding like an angry, bitter old man with a grudge.  Even if you disagree, and you totally love Tim O’Reilly, give it a read first and be salty later.

5/5 for doing your homework and delivering an enjoyable read.  Good job, Mr. Morozov.

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Thoughts on Steven Weber’s “The Success of Open Source” (chap 3)

If you’re interested in the part that I’m talking about…

http://hfoss-fossrit.rhcloud.com/static/books/Weber-SuccessofOpenSource-Chap3.pdf

Published 2005

The chapter is called “What is Open Source and How Does it Work?” and that basically describes it. It breaks down the process of open-source development as well as the problem it tries to solve.  Basically, it’s a primer for open-source, explaining its inner-workings in a functional manner.

The Good

  • Focuses on process, not product
  • Points out misconceptions about open-source development
  • Provides modern-ish examples of open-source communities and sites

The Bad

  • Spends a long time mulling over graphs of estimated numbers of Linux users
  • Spends a bit too much time on software-development in general (not open-source specific all the time)
  • Generally a bit too verbose at times

I’m still wondering…

  1. What does a failed open-source project look like and how does it work?
  2. How does a project transition into open-source development?
  3. What do current open-source trends say about where the movement is going?

What I think…

This chapter is pretty well-written. If you’re curious about open-source development, read it now. Seriously, stop reading this review and read the chapter.  It starts chronologically, getting into the history of Linux and continues to reference Torvalds periodically throughout the chapter.  This works well, as he set a fine precedent for open-source developers in both practice and temperament.

After that, Weber starts knocking out topics one-by-one.  He covers the fundamental problem that open-source sets out to solve, and does a good job of providing examples and principles to simplify his explanation.  He can get a bit caught up in explaining software development as a whole, which may bore those already familiar with that.  However, that’s better than not explaining enough.

Another good title would be “The Open Source Process Explained.”  He frequently answers the question of “How does an open-source team deal with/do _____?” which is very helpful no matter what type of software you’re willing to develop.

Overall, this is a great entry point to learning about open-source development.  Read this if you’re curious at all about it.

In short: 5/5 (Awesome)

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