Give, then take

What makes people fear Oracle's move into open source is that its giving could be a dodge. There is an assumption they're going to fork Linux, that they're going to add something proprietary to the mix, as in the story of the old lady sticking razors in the apples.

I've already written a piece for our "scary tech" section but here's a bonus fear.

It's a steady fear, a perpetual fear, a fear I have when I'm almost past fear.

It is fear for the telltale heart of the open source (and Internet) business models.

That is, first you give, then you take.

The analogy is to trick-or-treating. The kids expect something at every house they visit, and they're usually right in where they knock, because every house with a lit pumpkin in the window is going to have people behind that door ready to give.

What makes people fear Oracle's move into open source is that its giving could be a dodge. There is an assumption they're going to fork Linux, that they're going to add something proprietary to the mix, as in the story of the old lady sticking razors in the apples.

People, and companies, overcome this distrust by giving more than others, by giving continually, by steadily expanding their credibility. The question here is whether Oracle will stay that course.

To update the holiday imagery, imagine the reaction to Ebenezer Scrooge the day after he showed up at the Cratchits with the goose and the presents. There was smiling, and laughter, but underneath there was deep suspicion. Scrooge still had to prove himself, again and again, the rest of his life, to win trust, to make people believe his conversion was sincere.

So which holiday is this, Mr. Ellison? Is it Halloween or Christmas?

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