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Novell Linux Desktop Press Tour

I met with PC Magazine today. I used to read PC Magazine back in my early days in IT. As I recall, I used to devour it while I was still learning what’s what and finding everything I could learn about computers to be urgent. (Since then, my noise filtering has gone way up and knowing the latest sound chip innovation is not nearly so critical.)
The guys as PC Magazine were a good bunch. It’s funny how well so many of the geek-chic set get Linux better than I expect people to. For people outside of open source and Linux awareness, there seems to be a mystique about what open source is and what Linux is. I’m sure it’s different for each person, but the general gist of it seems to be that there’s a perception that there’s some concept that’s really difficult to understand about it–a barrier to intellectual entry, if you will. The more I work with people discussing what Novell is doing with Linux and open source, the more I start to realize that the barrier to entry a self-reinforcing non-entity that people create because its different from what they know and it’s a simple concept that has deep implications as to how the IT industry will function in the future.
Different models do not always mean complex models. I compare this to the theory of evolution. Many people do not understand it, and out of fear that there is something very complex about it, few people ever come to understand it. Like open source, it has deep implications that would change the current operating model. But the concepts of evolution are not really difficult. They just demand that you think about things differently than how you’re accustomed to.
Anyway, i’d have to call the guys at PC Magazine “friendlies.” Not to Novell particularly, but to Linux and open source. There weren’t any things I said that they seemed to struggle with or want to debate. Most of what I presented seemed to make perfect sense to them, and they just nodded and we moved on to the next topic. While that validates what I was presenting, and I’m pleased about that, it also indicates that perception barriers may in many cases be my own.
So what I learned today is that when speaking to people about Linux and open source, you need to gauge what they already know. If they’re OSS “friendlies” and your messages and approach are straightforward–that is honest and realistic–then you’re work is mostly done for you.


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