Former Massachusetts Chief Information Officer Peter Quinn, who was deeply involved of the OpenDocument vs. Microsoft format debate, has some advice for the open source community. If you want to get traction in commercial environments, lose the sandals and ponytails, Quinn said.
"Open source has an unprofessional appearance, and the community needs to be more business-savvy in order to start to make inroads in areas traditionally dominated by commercial software vendors. (Having) a face on a project or agenda makes it attractive for politicians (to consider open source)," Quinn said speaking at LinuxWorld Australia. The "sandal and ponytail set," Quinn said, contribute to the slow uptake of Linux in government and business, according to the story by ZDNet Australia reporters Matthew Overington and Steven Deare.
Speaking about the OpenDoc situation, Quinn said: "When you think about the lobbying power and the cash that's available for opponents of open source and opponents of OpenDocument, there is a significant amount of money and resource that people can and will bring to bear."
He concluded with a verbal barrage at IT departments: "I blame the IT community, I blame the IT leadership, over and over and over again, about their inability to articulate correctly the business opportunity that we've got here. [I blame them] for not understanding what it is that they do, for spending too much time talking and thinking in technology terms, and not thinking in terms of business."
Speaking of ponytails, does Quinn include Sun President, COO and open source evangelist Jonathan Schwartz as in need of a haircut to be viewed as credible?
Open source, OpenDoc allies: Peter Quinn and Jonathan Schwartz
How about Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement?
It's not about the ponytails and sandals. Open source has already made huge inroads into business and government. It's no longer a fringe movement, but a mainstream activity. Don't confuse programmers working behind the scenes in sandals and T-shirts with the suits selling hybrid open source/closed source software and services into the every corner of the planet. A relentless lobbyist with a ponytail can be just as effective as a programmer with a buzz cut.