Open source and the attention economy

With the continued growth of the open source economy we in the media find our job is to pay attention.This is not what's best for our financial health.

Funambol t-shirt front
With the continued growth of the open source economy we in the media find our job is to pay attention.

This is not what's best for our financial health. I have found that most stories I write about small open source start-ups go unread and unremarked upon.

On the other hand, all I have to do is write the magic word "Microsoft" and the money flows like wine. Even valid stories may be ignored if you're just using e-mails and phone calls.

Thus people go the extra mile. Yesterday Funambol wanted me to know about a deal it made with Earthlink, making its open source address book available across all customer platforms, using its SyncML. Nice, but who is going to get excited and write-in about that?

Well, how about if Funambol brings t-shirts touting open source to a Microsoft ISV conference?  How about if CEO Fabrizio Capobianco wears one? Will that get you excited?

Yawn.

OK, try this instead. When a former Nortel subsidiary agreed to let Fonality send out a press release on its new Asterisk-based phone system, the former corporate parent forced it to turn around, and then sought to pull back the press release (and the story). The whole thing got Slashdotted.

Now, that's going to create a blogswarm.

I guess the lesson here is that, if you want publicity (and the positive attention which goes with it) you're much better off getting yourself slapped by Steve Ballmer upside the head than just wearing a t-shirt to his developer's conference.

Not that I recommend it. Ballmer's got a big right hand.