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Open Source Geeks Considered Modern Heroes

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the i-need-a-hero dept.

Programming 361

loconet writes "The BBC reports that a report by Demos says that the all-consuming passions of geeks and nerds may actually be beneficial for society. The UK think tank's report published today, underlines the importance of 'Pro-Ams' -- amateurs who pursue a hobby or pastime, in many cases an all-consuming passion, to a professional standard. The report says Pro-Am astronomers have made 'significant contributions' to the knowledge of the universe, while Pro-Am computer programmers are providing the only serious challenge to Microsoft's dominance of personal computing."

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361 comments

I'm your hero (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953884)

cuz I got first post

in korea (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953897)

only old people are heroes

Of course... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953899)

this doesn't mean chicks will sleep with geeks now or anything.

Re:Of course... (4, Funny)

Dav3K (618318) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954025)

uh, they sleep with rich geeks... you just gotta take your game to the next level, man.

Re:Of course... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954241)

I think you underestimate what appearing on the cover of even wired magazine can do to a guy's social life. It isn't just money. Fame counts too.


Also, just having money may not get you nooky. Look at "Who wants to marry a millionaire". That guy came off a serious looser. What women really want IMHO is the men that "represent the future"-whatever that future may be.

put best (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954253)

Tycho said it best yesterday with

As regards the laydays, Gabriel suggests the most important thing is that you simply be yourself, unless you are poor. Then, try to be someone who is richer and better looking, because you are kind of ugly. I am only only speaking for myself, but I have had good success with traps.

basically if acting like yourself doesn't work then try acting like someone else.

Women are easy anyway. You just gotta be indifferent to them right until you have sex with them, them tell them to kick rocks, and they will be wrapped around your 11'th finger.

Ok then... (3, Funny)

krmt (91422) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953900)

Where's my damn cape then?

Re:Ok then... (4, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954029)

"Where's my damn cape then?"

Its in the wash. Your mother got tired of the smell comming from your room (or as you call it, your fortress of solitude) and had to clean it.

Re:Ok then... (4, Funny)

fracai (796392) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954035)

Trust me, you don't want one. I saw this documentary a few weeks ago about this whole series of guys killed due to their cape wearing ways. I myself was amazed at this lesser known killer.

Re:Ok then... (-1, Troll)

.nuno (153038) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954068)

I see... You're one of those too "mature" to admit he's been watching "The Incredibles" (crappy, boring and predictable btw, just in case someone's planning to buy tickets for it).

Don't worry, your secret is safe here.

Re:Ok then... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954298)

I'm not the only tech-savvy dude who thought The Incredibles was just a graphics wank fest? Wow!

Gratuitous? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954055)

Although open source programmers have done neat things, one must be careful not to throw around the word 'hero'.

Heroes are people who save lives. Firefighters and policemen are heroes -- they brave danger on a daily basis to save lives. So too was Jonas Salk; if he developed a program to add tags to MP3 files instead of discovering penicillin and refining it for medical use, this would have been a disappointment.

This isn't intended to disparage the work of open source geeks in any way. They're just in a different class (improving our lives in front of a LCD monitor instead of saving them from a burning building.)

mod parent up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954137)

WTF? -1 troll? How the hell is this a troll?

Aww, poor little nerd moderator couldn't take it when his idols weren't allowed to be heroes.

Re:Gratuitous? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954275)

Might it be possible that there are more than one type of hero?

Re:Ok then... (1)

Ann Coulter (614889) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954081)

I almost read that as carpe diem. But that does tie in with the topic. Carpe Diem my friend! By the way, I'm not dyslexic, I just process input out of order.

Re:Ok then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954112)

You'll have to buy it.. And you should probably pick up some underwear while you're at it.

Re:Ok then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954303)

You think that programmers havent saved a few lives with there software. And remember were heros, do you think we care for mortal things. HA!

I am MASTURBATING FURIOUSLY over this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953911)

Geeks are good. Let's pat ourselves on the back.

Open Source Geeks Considered Modern Heroes (4, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953924)

Sure the headline may say
Open Source Geeks Considered Modern Heroes
But be sure to read the small print:
... Exception : women
Rats.

Re:Open Source Geeks Considered Modern Heroes (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953971)

Open Source Geeks Considered Modern Heroes

...but decided they prefered the Silver Age ones.

Re:Open Source Geeks Considered Modern Heroes (4, Funny)

SlowMovingTarget (550823) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954158)

Yeah... I should've read the class description a little better before starting my geek character:

INT +10
WIS +4
CHA -7
STR -5
DEX -2

Re:Open Source Geeks Considered Modern Heroes (5, Funny)

PW2 (410411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954251)

... Exception : women

Just add a catch() statement and you'll be fine.

catch statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954282)

Hahahahah that was funny.

Good one.

I love geek jokes. :)

I'm an anime hero (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953929)

if you consider an all consuming passion for girls in sailor suits, cat-girls, robot-girls, etc, in the same class with those other all consuming passions.

In Korea (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953940)

In Korea, only old people are considered modern heroes.

D'uh (1)

tacokill (531275) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953947)

This has been true forever.

At the top, are the professionals (and the large companies, governments, and institutions to support them)

At the bottom are those who have an interest but no means to carry out their interest due to high barriers of entry.

That leaves room in the middle for us, the pro-ams. Most of us won't find the "next best thing", but a FEW of us will. That's pretty cool.

OS world (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953994)

Yes, but still we all know the real point to this story.
By contributing something for free you are part of something very special. For someday we will all be contributing everything for free and then we will say:

"Gee, why do we bother charging money for things if everything is free?"

"I dunno. What is this 'money' you speak of"

"I heard its the root of all evil"

"Nooo, thats Doom 4, hheheh^^"

Am-Pros (5, Funny)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953961)

People who work as professionals that perform at an amateur level.

Yup, I've known a few.

Re:Am-Pros (1)

rodentia (102779) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954109)

Of course, we do that in order to devote as much attention as possible to excelling in our avocation. I'm an amateur developer cause it pays the rent but professional poet, philosopher, historian of the 15th century. It is of the nature of higher pursuits that they do not remunerate like conventional skills.

It is also true that this is the source of tremendous creative value. When the Ams go Pro, they can devote all their energy to their passions.

Re:Am-Pros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954149)

Um, a lot of people, myself included, would say that if it's not what you make your living at, then you are an amateur in the true sense of the word.

You're simply an amateur with hubris.

Re:Am-Pros (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954236)

>It is of the nature of higher pursuits that they do not remunerate like conventional skills.

Its not the "nature of higher pursuits" that forces you to develop so you can pay the rent.

Its that your aren't good of a poet/philosopher/historian/candlestick-maker to get paid enough to pay the rent.

Re:Am-Pros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954233)

>People who work as professionals that perform at an amateur level.

So my boss is a Bum-Pro?

Re:Am-Pros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954278)

The biggest difference is we (Am-Pro) are getting paid $30/hr to learn what to do while the pro-ams are just getting the fullfilment fo learnign something new.

Personally, I'll take the $30/hr just about any day.

Not to be frivolous (1)

static0verdrive (776495) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953968)

but didn't we already know this? Open source geeks have been my heroes for years, and now that I am one I know that I feel better about my open source contributions than I do about a lot of other things I do! (I'm not exactly my own hero, but I am way cooler than all those "maybe I can start my own company with this cool office suite I'm programming for DOS!" losers)

Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (1, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953975)

Although open source programmers have done neat things, one must be careful not to throw around the word 'hero'.

Heroes are people who save lives. Firefighters and policemen are heroes -- they brave danger on a daily basis to save lives. So too was Jonas Salk; if he developed a program to add tags to MP3 files instead of discovering penicillin and refining it for medical use, this would have been a disappointment.

This isn't intended to disparage the work of open source geeks in any way. They're just in a different class (improving our lives in front of a LCD monitor instead of saving them from a burning building.)

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (1)

DrCode (95839) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954022)

What about the people who would have had heart attacks out of frustration with Windows? Perhaps Linus has saved lives.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (3, Funny)

ERJ (600451) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954165)

I don't know...over the years trying to comprehend man files has raised my blood pressure more then a few points.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (4, Insightful)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954107)

Take your point, but what about, for example, Phil Zimmerman? He gave us Pretty Good Privacy, and fought long and hard to ensure it was globally accessible. It's hard to know (for example) how many human rights workers lives have been saved by having access to secure communications, but for having the courage to fight for what he believed in, Phil Zimmerman is a hero.

Disclaimer : I was at a recent conference at which Zimmerman gave the keynote and he was, frankly, awful. It was as though someone had stolen his notes, which he hadn't previously read anyway; he winged it, kinda, sorta, for twenty of his allotted forty five minutes, then called for questions. The actual topic of the keynote was touched on precisely once, by a questioner. I suspect that he often *is* able to wing it in front of adoring geek audiences; it was embarassing that on this occasion he was so woefully unprepared. I didn't worship him before, and certainly don't now, but I still hold him as a hero.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (4, Insightful)

ChrisDolan (24101) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954136)

I believe the term is being used in this sense -- Dictionary entry: [m-w.com] 1c. a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities

I understand your point, but I think the use of hero in this context is appropriate. A hero does noble things you wish you could do. Narrowing the definition to just people who save lives is not accurate.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (2, Interesting)

forrestt (267374) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954143)

"Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)"
Hero He"ro, n.; pl. Heroes. F. h'eros, L. heros, Gr. ?.
1. (Myth.) An illustrious man, supposed to be exalted, after death, to a place among the gods; a demigod, as Hercules.

2. A man of distinguished valor or enterprise in danger, or fortitude in suffering; a prominent or central personage in any remarkable action or event; hence, a great or illustrious person.

Each man is a hero and oracle to somebody. --Emerson.

3. The principal personage in a poem, story, and the like, or the person who has the principal share in the transactions related; as Achilles in the Iliad, Ulysses in the Odyssey, and AEneas in the AEneid.

The shining quality of an epic hero --Dryden.


I think this fits #2 ("...a prominent or central personage in any remarkable action or event; hence, a great or illustrious person....")

Didn't you get the memo? (2, Insightful)

wantedman (577548) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954146)

A long time ago, extreme was only for activities that had a significant risk of getting killed; now it's a soft drink. Hero's the same way.

Hero is now used for everyone important & significant, even if that significance is just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954151)

Actually, I'd argue that just being a competent firefighter or cop isn't enough to be considered a hero, and that the word is overused in reference to dangerous professions. And no, I've never been either one -- but I was a medic in Desert Storm, and worked as a civilian EMT in one of the nation's top trauma hospitals, so I do have some perspective on this. In the military, there is a very specific definition of heroism: putting yourself at great personal risk by going above and beyond the call of duty to accomplish the mission.

I think it's fair to apply this definition to dangerous civilian jobs as well. A firefighter who pulls someone out of a burning building, or a cop who busts an armed and dangerous criminal, isn't necessarily going above and beyond; he's doing his job. (OTOH, the specific circumstances may well involve going above and beyond, in which case this is heroism, and should be recognized as such.)

In the case of less dangerous jobs, such as medical research -- yeah, I'd certainly include Salk and the other pioneers of immunization (penicillin was Alexander Fleming, IIRC) especially since they did risk their lives by working with people infected with very dangerous diseases. But the average researcher working in a lab, no matter how competent, shouldn't be called hero unless he does something extraordinary to earn that title. Overuse of the word weakens its meaning, and dishonors those who actually deserve it.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954209)


Overuse of the word weakens its meaning, and dishonors those who actually deserve it.

I suppose the standard ignorant slashdot reply should be something like, "language changes, get used to it" or "if enough people do it, then it's OK".

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954306)

I suppose the standard ignorant slashdot reply should be something like, "language changes, get used to it" or "if enough people do it, then it's OK".

Heh. I admit to mixed feelings on this issue -- languages do change over time, and we wouldn't have anywhere near the combination of simplicity and richness we do have in modern English if we'd held ourselves to arbitrary standards. OTOH (there you go) we need to have some standards in order to be able to communicate effectively, especially as our world grows more complex; Chaucer's English may be lovely, but you wouldn't want to write a scientific paper in it. In this particular case, it's a moral concern rather than one of linguistic purity. I've known a very few people in my life who genuinely deserved the title of "hero" -- I'd rather not see their achievements diminished by casual overuse of the word.

Shut and do your job (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954195)

I'm sick of all these new American "heros." Soon they're going to start calling politicians heros. If you're getting paid, you're doing your job. If you are unpaid, or untrained and risking your life on a whim, I'll credit you as a hero.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954200)

I think the definition of hero is a bit broader than that. Too name a few how about...

Gallileo
Ghandi
Martin Luther King

People who suffered for the advancement of others and strove to improve mankind's state and understanding regardless of the danger it posed to themselves or lack of reward.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (2, Informative)

pohl (872) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954202)

Heroes are people who save lives.

That may be the colloquial useage to some, but the first dictionary that I checked does not mention life-saving at all. It mentioned courage, nobility, fighting for a cause...but nothing explicitly about saving lives.

And let's not forget the Greek mathematician "Hero" famous for devising a way to determine the area of a triangle....definately a geek.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954216)

Firefighters and policemen are heroes -- they brave danger on a daily basis to save lives.

you need to be careful there throwing around the word hero with firefighters and policemen.

There are some that certianly are. They are the pinnacles of society and the example of who to be.

but I also know a large number of firement and Policemen that are absolute jerks and do the rest a major disservice wearing that badge and/or telling people they are firefighters.

unfortunately the number of police that are honerable and worthy of even consideration of the word hero are dwindling fast.

I'm betting it's because the asshat's in the city manager's office that feel that risking your life is only worth $35,000.00 or even less because things are "tight" while they make over 100K a year and are expecting raises, and the public will vote down that millage increase that will cost them another $15.00 a year in taxes because they also think that fire and police protection is worthless to them.

Heros are few and far between now days. Some heros are rewarded with being fired because they gave CPR to a co-worker in need. (Yes, I saw it happen) And current public attitude is to sue the hell out of everyone espically those damned heros.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954237)

Jonas Salk discovered the Polio vaccine...

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954265)

> So too was Jonas Salk; if he developed a program to add tags to MP3 files instead of discovering penicillin and refining it for medical use, this would have been a disappointment.

If Jonas Salk had discovered penicillin and refined it for medical use, he'd have been busted for plagiarizing Fleming's work about 20something years after the fact, and would never have made it out of med school.

If Jonas Salk had developed a program to add tags to MP3 files, he would have been a hero. For revolutionizing the field of temporal dynamics, mind you, but a hero nonetheless... (Umm, and Karlheinz Brandenburg from Fraunhoefer IIS would have been busted for plagiarizing Salk's work 30something years after the fact, but that's another story.)

No wonder he invented a vaccine for polio instead. :)

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (1)

briaman (564586) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954268)

By your definition - Jonas Salk is not a hero: he did not brave danger on a daily basis.

On the other hand, Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] defines a hero as someone who performs good and praiseworthy deeds. By this definition, anyone who gives of themselves for the benefit of all is a hero. That includes Firemen, Policemen, Jonas Salk ... and open source developers.

I'm grateful to them all.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954281)

A lot of the Greek heroes were a bit weird. For Geek heroes, just apply a few thousand years of Moore's law to that bit.

Re:Use of 'hero' gratuitous? (2, Insightful)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954304)

Hero is also a contextual (and very subjective) word. In a loose sense, a hero is a person who exemplifies the ideal. Also, in different circumstances the same act can be either heroic or cowardly. What open source developers do may not be seen as heroic by Americans, but it may be the case among Tibetans as allowing them to organize against violent oppression. Perspective drives reality; that sounds strangely neo-con but it really is the way of the world (neo-liberals would do well to figure this out before 2008.) The same man may be viewed as both a tyrant and a national hero depending on the perspective. And there's almost always going to be SOMEONE on either side of that divide (opinion on someone like Bush is a great example.)

Many people around the world (probably the majority, actually) see the advancement of multinational corporate interests as a threat. Those who go against the grain, be it coffee cooperatives in Chiapas, Islamist insurgents or "rogue" open source developers will always be seen as heroes by someone. True freedom from information censorship may be this generation's greatest gift to the world. Of course, my perspective is probably skewed as well, so as with anything on slashdot, grain of salt provided.

I dont think there's much call for.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953976)

One Pro-am "intelligence" agent.

p.s. It wasn't "Bin laden"

Unappreciated by the opposite sex (2, Funny)

The_Real_Nire (786847) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953977)

It's too bad they/we cant get laid more often.

Re:Unappreciated by the opposite sex (1)

lpangelrob2 (721920) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954310)

I really don't understand this position. Is it true that people that work in the computer industry have zero social skills, or just a perception we've come to cast ourselves by? I'm speaking as a 23 year old software developer who's getting married in 4 days.

There's really nothing that can make us that socially different in our industry... not so much different as accountants that might spend 11 hours a day in a cube, or evil Ms. Wench in grade school that you might've had in first grade. Everyone I work with is married with children (except for the guy next to me, who mostly hangs out with friends at bars, and rides a motorcycle when it's not snowing outside.) And for a while, I worked with four women software developers in a team, and a woman managed it.

I'm well aware it's a gross oversimplification, but at the very least it should resemble reality. Maybe it's reality if you're still a senior in high school, but now that I'm out of college, the real world doesn't suck as much as geeks make it out to be.

By the way, I usually would rather work with the women... except when they start complaining about relational issues. :-)

In Korea... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953983)

Only old people consider "Pro Am" surgery.

The 20th century witnessed the rise of professionals in medicine, science, education, and politics. In one field after another, amateurs and their ramshackle organisations were driven out by people who knew what they were doing and had certificates to prove it.

Newsflash! (0, Redundant)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953984)

Organization whose aim is "to create an open resource of knowledge" applauds open-source programmers! News at 11!

Volunteers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953997)

Open source creatores (me) must be compared to volunteers and philanthrops.
The volunteer that help the senior to cross the street, the meals on wheels volunteers, the philanthrop that give money to cancer research, you name it.
And we should have the same respect.

Nah... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953998)

Open source geeks are just the programmers who can't get a job. Not necessarily a bad thing, as unemployed people have contributed many great things to society. But still, a huge quantity of those who develop open source only do so because they haven't much else to do.

A Troll article? (5, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954007)

I have one Mod point left and I want to use it before the end of the day when it expires. How can I mod this whole article as Troll?

Come on folks. Only on select sites such as this one are people like those mentioned in the article considered heroes. Joe Average, as a rule, doesn't even know what Open Source is let alone that it exists.

Maybe, possibly, though unlikely, some time in the future those who have contributed might be recognized for their efforts (such as Linus) in hindsight but I'm not holding my breath.

Re:A Troll article? (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954079)

Come on folks. Only on select sites such as this one are people like those mentioned in the article considered heroes. Joe Average, as a rule, doesn't even know what Open Source is let alone that it exists.

I think that we could say that even though most people don't know about Open Source "heros" that what these people do on a daily basis ends up impacting everyone else even if only indirectly.

If it wasn't for the rise of Linux who knows where MSFT would be heading...

Re:A Troll article? (4, Insightful)

Tim (686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954189)

You're being tremendously unfair.

I'm a graduate student. I do computational biology research, as do many of my colleagues. I know scores of people who are involved in genome analysis, drug design, and fundamental forms of biomedical research. And when you look at the tools that we use, you find that we're increasingly dependent upon open source software -- from operating systems to compilers to scripting languages, our work is fundamentally enabled by the efforts of hundreds of thousands of volunteers.

It's quite humbling, actually. I probably couldn't do my research without open source. At the very least, the people who pay me probably couldn't afford to pay the same number of students/faculty/staff if they had to shell out for millions of dollars in proprietary software (to say nothing of the compatability problems that proprietary software usually creates).

The people who develop open source software help to make biomedical research possible. Is that heroism? I don't know, but it's certainly not a trivial thing....

The only thing new... (4, Interesting)

Justice8096 (673052) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954024)

Note that the article from Demos indicates that professional amateurs are not new - this is just reversing a trend that started last century when professionals made most of the contributions.
I'd say that the only "new" thing about professional amateurs is that the Internet allows them to publicise their work earlier, allowing us to take advantage of genius before the person dies.
Whether this marginalizes them by forcing them down the conventional paths by responding to feedback from their peers, where previously an amateur would have less feedback and explore the non-utilitarian aspects of an idea, or allows the amateur to expand their idea by meeting more of their ilk, is up for grabs.
Any ideas?

Trainspotter from hell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954034)

You MUST check out that BBC picture before making final judgement.

One of my "hot buttons" (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954037)

The terms "amateur" and "professional" are in no way synonymous with "expertise," and the phrase "professional standard," if it has any real meaning at all, has meaning only within the realm of a particular workplace, not the lab/workshop.

KFG

why are people who work on Open Source (3, Interesting)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954048)

amateurs and people who code for corporations Pros?

don't people do both? i know i do, so does that mean only projects where money involved are "professional" and OSS is "amateurs"?

that is just assinine

Well, yes (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954111)

If you're going by something known as the definition.

It might be assinine to split hairs like this, but it's a valuable distinction given the context of the article.

Re:why are people who work on Open Source (1)

johnmc (66535) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954140)

Umm, yeah. That's due to the *definitions* of Amateur and Professional:

Amateur (m-w.com):

2 : one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession

The most relevant (for clarification of my point) entry for Professional (also m-w.com):

2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs

If you get money for it, you're a professional, if not, then you're an amateur.

Re:why are people who work on Open Source (1)

49152 (690909) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954247)

Nice :-)

I suppose that mean I could title myself "Professional Open Source developer", since I have several times been paid to both write new and modify existing GPL licensed code.

Knowledge is power* (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954061)


*not applicable in USA

Re:Knowledge is power* (1)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954250)

Picture this: Somewhere in the world, a filmmaker creates a short documentary that chronicles what he perceives as the excesses of anti-abortion activists. An anti-abortion zealot reacts to the film by killing the filmmaker in broad daylight and stabbing anti-abortion tracts onto his body. How does the Hollywood community react to this atrocity? Would there be angry protests? Candlelight vigils? Outraged letters and columns and articles? Awards named in honor of their fallen comrade? Demands for justice? Calls for protection of artistic freedom? It's a pretty safe bet that there would be all of the above and much more. And all of the anger would be absolutely justified. So I'm trying to understand the nearly universal lack of outrage coming from Hollywood over the brutal murder of Dutch director, Theo van Gogh, who was shot on the morning of November 2, while bicycling through the streets of Amsterdam. The killer then stabbed his chest with one knife and slit his throat with another. The presumed murderer, a Dutch-born dual Moroccan-Dutch citizen, attached a 5-page note to van Gogh's body with a knife. In it, he threatened jihad against the West in general, and specifically against five prominent Dutch political figures. Van Gogh's crime? He created a short film highly critical of the treatment of women in Islamic societies. So, again I ask, where is the outrage from Hollywood's creative community? I mean, talk about a violation of the right of free speech! Perhaps they are afraid that their protests would put them in danger. That, at least, is a defensible position. If I were Michael Moore, I would much rather rail against George W. Bush, who is much less likely to have me killed, than van Gogh's murderer and the threat to creative freedom he brings. Besides, a man of Moore's size would provide a great deal of "bulletin board" space. Maybe they think it would be intolerant of them to criticize the murder, because it would put them on the side of someone who criticized a segment of the Arab world. And, after all, we are often reminded that we need to be more tolerant of others, especially if they're not Christians or Jews. There's another possibility; one that seems crazy on the surface, but does provide an explanation for the silence, and is also in keeping with the political climate in Hollywood. Is it just possible that there are those who are reluctant to criticize an act of terror because that might somehow align them with President Bush, who stubbornly clings to the notion that these are evil people who need to be defeated? Could the level of hatred for this President be so great that some people are against anything he is for, and for anything he is against? As nutty as it sounds, how else can you explain such a muted reaction to an act that so directly impacts creative people everywhere? Can you conceive of a filmmaker being assassinated because of any other subject matter without seeing a resulting explosion of reaction from his fellow artists in America and around the world? As I said, it's a nutty-sounding explanation, but we live in nutty times.

That's great news! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954074)

Oh, the bad news? You still won't get laid.

My take on pro vs. am (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954077)

Pros eventually reach a level where they spend more and more time managing the system (meetings, writing, planning, and press) than doing whatever they were doing to got them there in the first place. Amateurs have a love and the luxury (total absence of finances or already early retirement) of not having the management role and can focus their efforts more productively.

Re:My take on pro vs. am (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954264)

My take:
\Am`a*teur"\, n. [F., fr. L. amator lover, fr. amare to love.] A person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science as to music or painting; esp. one who cultivates any study or art, from taste or attachment, without pursuing it professionally.

Nonsense. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954100)

Only cops, firefighters and soldiers are heroes. You are not a hero unless you put your life on the line. If you only give your life away one line of code at a time, you are not a hero, you are a wuss. Please pray for our troops while you are safe at home coding.

Just my $1.05

Re:Nonsense. (1)

hkb (777908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954287)

How is this truth a troll post?

You want to be a hero? Go into a profession that saves lives.

I'm not a hero for any of the computer stuff I do.... even when I save Betsy in Accounting's spreadsheet that she's been working on for a week. And neither are you.

If you want to see a hero, go do a ride-along with a cop or a firefighter. Go serve in the military and learn what it really means to have others depend on you, on your competence.

Ego stroking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954102)

Slashdot again descends to stroking the egos of the wannabe set.

sigh.

Here's to the OSS geeks!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954108)

Did you ever know that you're my hero,
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.

What was Leonardo? What was Galileo? (4, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954124)

See, this doesn't surprise me as news. The article should be taking the complete opposite tack.

For the last 100 years in the US, for example, we've been consumed by consumption. Things have to make money in order to be researched or experimented with and people have to make money to survive. So everyone gets a 9 to 5 job and works their tail off until they go into business for themselves or find some niche that makes them happy that also pays them.

I think the problem is that the over all amount of science and pure research has shrunk in recent years because so many people are concerned about two things:

1) What they think is important rather than what's best for science in general.
2) Money.

I.E. "why should my taxes fund that research? Huh? it might cure disease in 20 years? I don't get it, it must be stupid since I don't understand how that could possibly happen. Now pardon me while I go manage my snack food and oil stock portfolio."

And worse, in the US, so many people have less hobby time than they used to because people are working longer hours in the US.

Scientists of old had more significant hobby time than dop typical US citizens. They also were funded more often by local lords who thought it a status symbol to be funding the local science or art geek. Our national endowments for the arts and sciences inthe US have been gutted as of late because the public feels these funds "unnecessary."

Science and Art lead society. Most americans don't get that, because they are scared of change. So we are stuck with the same music as before, the same stupid non-important drugs, and the same people running the government, and less and less real art and science coming out of this country.

Hopefully, the UK will heed the BBC and turn away from the way the US is running itself into the ground.

Re:What was Leonardo? What was Galileo? (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954289)

Er, the UK invented the stagnant society you describe. Why would they change now?

Sheesh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954126)

I think this is scientific proof that /. open-source triumphalism has officially Jumped The Shark.

C'mon, guys. I hate Microsoft as much as anybody, but get a grip...

not second best (1)

paulwomack (163598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954161)

The experimental archeology field (AKA reenactors) is mainly amateur, but there are some deep, deep experts there.

In general, the amateurs are likely to be more highly skilled than the professionals in any field where there's no income to be earned (duh!).

BugBear

15 mins for Geeks (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954173)

Remember when Kim Polese was considered one of Time's most 25 influential people? WHat happened to Marimba... oh yeah, BMC bought them at a fire sale.

Looking back through history (4, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954185)

When you think about all the people in history that made sizeable contributions to society (like Galileo, Mozart, Tesla, etc.), did it not seem to you from our perspective that they were more of hobbyists? I'm not trying to belittle them, I'm just saying that when reading about their life, they seemed quite a bit like most of us. So I imagine there is a lot we could learn from their lives and experiences they had within their society.

Top Five Pro-Am activities (4, Funny)

rodentia (102779) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954226)

The guy sourced for the article happens to be an OSS geek. Anorak in the hed. Hello, slashdot? Is the BBC reduced to astroturfing?

Top five pro-am activities:

Gardening
DIY
Sports
Arts and Crafts
Photography

And the number one most popular pro-am activity:

Sex.

Go ahead, London.

Thanks guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954235)

While challenging Microsoft is a very worthy cause. It's just part of the battle(an important one) against intellectual property(slavery). Thanks to you, I am writing this on a nice Slackware distro(10.0) that works flawlessly(well, almost, but I consider the flaws a personal challenge for me to overcome as opposed to an annoyance, and you will never, ever hear me complain about it. It helps me to understand how and why things work.) Please stand with those who understand that an expressed idea cannot be owned.
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