More on Google and Open Source
In response to Krzysztof Kowalczyk's post entitled Google - we take it all, give nothing back and some of the responses to that post, Adam Bosworth has fired off a missive entitled We all stand on the shoulders of giants. He writes
Recently I pointed out that databases aren't evolving ideally for the needs of modern services and customers who which must support change and massive scale without downtime. This post was savaged by an odd alliance; the shrill invective of the Microsoft apparachiks perhaps sensing an opportunity to take the focus away from Ballmer's remorseless attack on all that is not Microsoft (but most especially on Open Source) and certain Open Source denizens themselves who see fit to attack Google for not "giving back" enough apparently unaware that all software benefits in almost infinite measure from that which comes before. As usual the extremes find common ground in a position that ignores common sense, reason, and civility.
It would seem that these cacophonous critics, yammering about giving back and sweepingly ignoring the 100's of billions of times people use and appreciate what Google gives them for free every day from Search to Scholar to Blogger to gMail to Picasa, do not understand this basic fact.
It seems Adam Bosworth's position is that Google gives back to the Open Source community by not charging for accessing Google or Blogger. This seems to imply that advertising supported services like MSN Search, Hotmail and MSN Spaces are some sort of charity as opposed to the businesses they actually are.
Mr. Bosworth's statements seem to make a number of the observations made by Krzysztof Kowalczyk in his recent post Google - comments on comments more interesting. Krzysztof wrote
More importantly, Chris DiBona , formerly a Slashdot editor and contributor to a book on open source, now a Google employee, calls me ignorant and lazy for not knowing about Google’s open source contributions.
Maybe I am. However:
- I do follow my share of open source projects (a bad addiction, really) and I’ve never seen a Google employee participating in them. Which, of course, proves nothing but one data point is better than zero.
- I did ask on my weblog for pointers to Google’s contributions. Despite temporary popularity of my blog, no-one sent me any.
- I’ve read all the weblog posts commenting on my piece and no-one else in blogosphere was any less ignorant or lazy.
All that leads me to believe that Google’s contribution, if not a mythical creature, is not that easy to find.
Chris promises a list of Google’s contributions in “coming months". I would rather have it now. The good thing about promising to do something months from today is that you don’t have to do it. You can just rely on the fact that everybody will forget that you’ve made such promise.
I think no additional commentary is necessary. Krzysztof's post and Adam's response speak for themselves.