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CBR's Open Source VIPs, Part One
Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 11:35 AM EDT

Computer Business Review's Matthew Aslett has an article which lists CBR's list of the VIPs of Open Source, those individuals who have helped Linux become established in the industry, and it has interviews with many of the folks on the list. Their readers helped them make up the list. Judge Kimball is on it, although obviously he didn't grant an interview. In fact, in his case, I doubt he even knows about it. But readers know the importance of this litigation, and since this is a list of those with the most influence, he does belong on the list. Here's a snip from the article:
Open source is about people as much as it is products and companies, but the role of individuals in establishing the open source industry is often overlooked given headlines like "IBM makes $100m investment in Linux".

To celebrate the role of the individual in establishing open source as the market force it is today, CBR decided to put together a list of the most important people in open source, and solicited the views of its Open Source Weblog to help compile it....

The CBR Open Source VIPs represent the individuals who are considered to be the most influential people in open source right now.

I am on the list, too, amazingly enough. So, thanks if you suggested me. I hear a lot of folks did. There is an interview with me, and that is the reason why I'm mentioning all this. A couple of reporters who have recently contacted SCO about a news story Groklaw published had the odd experience of SCOfolk asking the reporter if I am a 'real person'.

As it happens, Computer Business Review asked me something related to that too in the interview, which isn't surprising since SCO's theories of who I am are of longstanding.

So, here is my answer, one small part of the interview.

CBR: Will you ever reveal your "secret identity"?

PJ: My answer is a bit complex. On a simple plane, I hope not.

I not only never expected anyone to read what I wrote, I never wanted to be famous. I still don't. I never tried for it. And while I don't mind meeting people one to one and telling them who I am, I don't want to feel I can't walk into a computer store or go to a conference without someone pointing me out.

Can you imagine living your whole life like that? I don't know how Linus does it. Or RMS [Richard Stallman]. But I'd hate it and I avoid it with all my ingenuity.

I never volunteered to be a public person, and I don't want to be one. I don't want to play my life out in public. But on a deeper level, that doesn't mean I have a secret identity any more than you do. I don't have a photo of you or know where you live or what your religion is or what your family members do, but I know you, by your work, over time. It's the same with me.

I'm no more secret than you are. This is a real conversation between two real human beings. No? Bloggers just have to be a bit more careful than your kind of journalist, so kooks don't show up on their doorstep, because there's no employer as a buffer. SCO made a big issue, because they wished to detract from the respect people have for me, I think. That's all.

That last part is really the proof of me being a real person, even if you've not yet met me in a one-to-one situation. It reminds me of something that happened to me years ago, when I was trying to decide if God existed or not. Someone said to me that she thought he must, because the physical creation reflects personality. Think of your funny little cat, she said, or flowers or the beauty of the stars that can bring tears to our eyes or make us feel so small. There's nothing impersonal or cold about that physical creation. And we respond to it with feelings too, she added, just like we do to a fine painting, and we never ask if that painting was done by a real person, because we'd know it even if the painting is unsigned.

Well, I found that convincing enough to continue the pursuit for an answer personally, although you may not, but my point here is secular: you can tell from an artist's creative work what the individual is like as a person. Isn't that true? You can figure out Hemingway's personality quite well just from his novels. I know a lot about Picasso from his work. And I think you can figure me out too, by reading Groklaw all these years. My heart is in it. No robot could write what I do. No committee either. It's personal, it has my personality in it, and it reflects my intelligence, my interests. And where there is personality there is a person. Where there is intelligence, there is a brain, and that implies a person too. A 'real person'.

Anyway, that is my answer. I know it's way over SCO's head, and they won't understand what I just wrote.

But you will.

CBR also asked me another question, and and I think my answer will help you developers out there to understand why I care so much about the ability to modify:

CBR: What was your level of interest in open source software before you started Groklaw?

PJ: Very high. I loved using GNU/Linux, just simply loved it. I feel like I can breathe when I am using it, and it's not a feeling I ever have with closed source software. I know, or can verify, that no one is secretly making my computer phone home or recording my hard drive number or making my machine a zombie or whatever.

I can see whatever I want to and can do whatever I want to, without any restrictions as a user. It's just a wonderful feeling of freedom. So when I thought SCO might ruin all of that, I definitely wanted to help, to contribute back according to my skills. That's how the community works. You donate what you can. Groklaw's SCO coverage is my contribution, my thank you.

Anyway, I thought you'd want to know about the article and my interview. I do very few these days, but Matt was so persistent, I finally gave in. So now I know his personality a bit better too, even though we've never met face-to-face.

: )

By the way, you are on the list too, whether you are a developer or an end user:

John/Jane Doe

The unsung open source developers. Basically anyone who has ever contributed code to or suggested a patch for an open source project - even if it got rejected. Without them, there would be no open source model.

"Whatever activity you do, even if it is just using the software, you are part of the community," said Marten Mickos, MySQL CEO, at a recent event in London.


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