It’s not that often that I am by myself in a strange city away from the usual attractions and distractions of life, and one of the things that lets me do is catch up on my reading. [Yes, I know I read a lot and don’t sleep much, but I mean a different type of reading, more like StumbleUpon meets The Big Library in the Sky].
You may know the kind of reading I mean. When you go through your indecipherable notes listing the things you wanted to catch up on when you had the time. And that’s what I was doing, researching some of my pet subject areas, when I came across Paul Graham’s site. And I found some really great stuff there.
Here’s a small sample of excerpts from an essay entitled What Business Can Learn From Open Source: Each quotation is shown in bold and italicised. My comments intersperse the quotes.
A recent survey found 52% of companies are replacing Windows servers with Linux servers. 
More significant, I think, is which 52% they are. At this point, anyone proposing to run Windows on servers should be prepared to explain what they know about servers that Google, Yahoo, and Amazon don’t.
My suspicion is that the 48% are all Not-Invented-Here IT departments, and that this number is dropping. It may actually be lower than 48% already, but there’s still a tendency NOT to claim you run Linux, for fear of being considered radical, insecure, pinko, UnAmerican, whatever. So what do we know that Google, Amazon and Yahoo don’t? Probably that our jobs are less secure than theirs, so we act out our secrets and lies.
Like open source, blogging is something people do themselves, for free, because they enjoy it. Like open source hackers, bloggers compete with people working for money, and often win. The method of ensuring quality is also the same: Darwinian. Companies ensure quality through rules to prevent employees from screwing up. But you don’t need that when the audience can communicate with one another. People just produce whatever they want; the good stuff spreads, and the bad gets ignored. And in both cases, feedback from the audience improves the best work.
Paul makes the Good Snowballs Can’t Be Suppressed point a whole lot more elegantly than I did. And touches on the Covenants versus Contracts bit as well.
….the business world was so surprised by one lesson from open source: that people working for love often surpass those working for money. Users don’t switch from Explorer to Firefox because they want to hack the source. They switch because it’s a better browser.
Key point. It’s all about better. As the saying goes, first you need a good doctor, and if he or she is cheap then that is also good. You don’t need a cheap doctor.
As in software, when professionals produce such crap, it’s not surprising if amateurs can do better. Live by the channel, die by the channel: if you depend on an oligopoly, you sink into bad habits that are hard to overcome when you suddenly get competition. 
Protectionism Produces Poop.
And finally, a longer extract:
To me the most demoralizing aspect of the traditional office is that you’re supposed to be there at certain times. There are usually a few people in a company who really have to, but the reason most employees work fixed hours is that the company can’t measure their productivity.
The basic idea behind office hours is that if you can’t make people work, you can at least prevent them from having fun. If employees have to be in the building a certain number of hours a day, and are forbidden to do non-work things while there, then they must be working. In theory. In practice they spend a lot of their time in a no-man’s land, where they’re neither working nor having fun.
If you could measure how much work people did, many companies wouldn’t need any fixed workday. You could just say: this is what you have to do. Do it whenever you like, wherever you like. If your work requires you to talk to other people in the company, then you may need to be here a certain amount. Otherwise we don’t care.
I want to meet this guy. Anybody know him and can set it up, please do. And if he is in the Bay Area, please let him know I’m here till Friday 23rd. Just in case.
Paul makes one other important point. Bloggers are writers. To some people, the word “blogger” conjures up something cheap and nasty, and organisational DNA kicks into immunity overdrive. Much like the effect of the word Wiki.
So I salute a writer who’s been around for a while, but who’s only just come to my notice. I shall be linking to your essays, Paul. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.