I said I would revert to the theme with which Dan Farber ended his opensource post: the inevitability of hybrids.
Why are hybrids inevitable? I think it all boils down to what Stephen Smoliar and Gordon Cook have been talking about recently, both in the shape of comments here as well as in their own blogs. [Blogs overlap and underlap all over the place, like real conversations....].
States and Transitions.
Many of us know where we want to go, but the path is not yet clear. We know what today represents. We know what tomorrow should look like. But we struggle with the in-between.
That in-between, the transition, tends to have three characteristics
1. Everyone’s Entitled to My Opinion
Polarisation: Opinions get polarised. Everything is about Big Ends versus Little Ends. Blefuscu Redux. Proprietary versus open. Petrol versus electric. VHS versus Betamax.
2. You say Tomahto, I say Tomayto
Meme battles: The battle switches to ideas and terms as we strive to make sense of it all. The language gets less civil, more intense, as passions move past simmering point. When words are the only weapons the air tends to get its own tinge of blue.
3. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose
While 1 and 2 are going on, with each side battling in glorious technicolor, the world carries on. And pragmatic people build pragmatic business models and exchange pragmatic value.
We’re all part of this ecosystem. It is said that each plant has its own specific parasite and its own specific pest, that famines were caused by people who carried plants to far-off lands without the apposite pest-parasite pairing. It’s not always clear what our roles are, who the pest is, who the parasite is. Maybe some of us who blog are pests. Maybe the media that feeds on our doings are parasites. Whatever it is, the outcome can and should be a healthy plant.
Hybrids represent transition. And some process of natural selection, as different hybrid strains battle it out for top slot; some atrophy and die, some adapt and survive.
So we have hybrids.
An aside. Hugh Macleod had this to say in a recent post. Over 95% of all Microsoft revenues come from their partners.
Think about it. What keeps the ecosystem going? Who is the pest? Who is the parasite? And is the plant healthy as a result?
Distribution channels are partners. Ecosystem members are partners. Customers are partners.
As we move from proprietary to open worlds, we are seeing another transition. The customer is becoming the partner. And not a day too soon.