Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Being Open

"Diversity" is more than the absence of racism. Diversity does not mean grudgingly tolerating the equality of those different from you, it means recognizing the real, additive value that disparate perspectives and habits bring to your life, and others' lives. It doesn't mean tolerating differences, it means valuing differences. Tolerance is just the first step on the road to diversity.

Freedom of speech does not mean waiting for the other guy to say something before you shout him down. Free speech means, as the saying goes, disagreeing with what someone says but defending to the death his right to say it. You only really value freedom of speech when you quietly thank your higher power of choice that the other guy has the right to make your blood boil.

So it is with open platforms.

Openness is more than the absence of closed. Openness does not come automatically   just because you deploy an industry standard. Openness means you recognize the real, additive value that disparate products and businesses bring to your platform. It doesn't mean tolerating competition, it means valuing competition. You only really value openness when you quietly thank your higher power of choice that your competitor just took advantage of the opportunity to destroy your business on your own platform. Implementing standards is just the first step on the road to openness.

Steve Jobs, you fail at openness.


David Welton said...

Nice summary, Dan, although I don't think Jobs really cares, or ever has, about being open. If it's a useful strategy, fine, but to him it's not an end in and of itself. Which is why I don't use his products.

Dan Morrill said...

Yeah, totally agreed -- Jobs isn't really interested in being open. Mostly I'm just trying to point that out. I'm kind of offended by his cynically invoking the open web to defend his practices, more than his practices themselves.

Along those lines, I also wrote this on Buzz:

Also: Hi David!! Long time no see. :)

The Stigler said...

The problem for Jobs is that being closed isn't a good long-term business strategy, either.

If people can't do the things that make them richer or happier, and another platform does then people will go elsewhere. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but keep piling them on and they'll jump.

It's why I can't get too worked up over the iAd monopoly. I don't like it, but in the end, Apple are going to hurt iOS developers in the process of trying to hit Google. They're going to incur costs on changing their apps, and have less (or at least no more) ad income. The result is that they degrade the developer experience which will tip some developers into going Android, which will also tip some customers to buy Android phones.

But I also think this stuff puts developers off at a gut level. We challenge ourselves mentally to do things and don't want our software and hardware getting in the way. It's the sort of thing that gets developers to change which phone they buy.

Keep up the good work on Android.

Unknown said...

Sorry - can't agree.

If you create a platform that is open, and you show that you will keep it open (through licensing provisions, declarations, history, whatever) then that is good enough for me.

I'm not asking you to 'believe' that openness is morally right or that it makes business sense. Just give me an open platform and stick to it.

Unknown said...

Nice way to put it, Daniel. I really believe you almost completely summarize in your post what has been itching on me about Apple in the past years.

I took the liberty of translating it to spanish, hope you do not mind. Many, many friends would surely enjoy your idea but do not read english.

If you feel it inappropriate, just let me know and I will make it private.