Paul Graham on blogging and open source

I just finished reading Paul Graham’s latest essay he prepared for OSCON: What Business Can Learn from Open Source. Paul is an excellent writer and hit on a few key points I want to emphasize here.

I think the most important of the new principles business has to learn is that people work a lot harder on stuff they like. Well, that’s news to no one. So how can I claim business has to learn it? When I say business doesn’t know this, I mean the structure of business doesn’t reflect it.

Business still reflects an older model, exemplified by the French word for working: travailler. It has an English cousin, travail, and what it means is torture.

I think business structure most reflects the military or an army. Chain of command, dress clothes as well as fatigues, and little say about where and when you fight the next battle. Corporations were designed this way after World War II as most of our workforce had already had their lives altered by such a structure.

Those in the print media who dismiss the writing online because of its low average quality are missing an important point: no one reads the average blog. In the old world of channels, it meant something to talk about average quality, because that’s what you were getting whether you liked it or not. But now you can read any writer you want. So the average quality of writing online isn’t what the print media are competing against. They’re competing against the best writing online.

Sometimes the best writing online is the aggregation of best writing of others with a unique perspective. Did the mainstream media not cover the entire story? Bloggers pick up on an existing base work and build on top of it in ways unique to their point-of-view and their audience.

The problem with the facetime model is not just that it’s demoralizing, but that the people pretending to work interrupt the ones actually working.

Different people have different effective work environments as well. Office work can be noisy, full of interruptions, and less productive than if someone were to pick their own environment. If employees are choosing their work hours to avoid their coworkers and get things done something must be wrong.

Our employer-employee relationship still retains a big chunk of master-servant DNA.

Yep. I think that’s why so many workers focus on how to become the master instead of the servant. Most people see escape from servitude through a promotion but find that once they climb the next rung you actually have a new master with different demands.

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