Open Source vs. Wall Street Bonuses
Some years ago, I had a discussion with a co-worker about the purpose of businesses. She saw it as simply, "businesses are there to make money." I took a little different stance. I suggested that maybe businesses were there to allow people to do meaningful work, and making money was just part of how that was done. And that's what our discussion boiled down to - is the money a means or an end? Is the money how you accomplish things? Or is money what you accomplish? In the end we didn't resolve anything; she was baffled by my views and I was frustrated at my inability to convey something which seemed pretty obvious to me. This article seems to dance around my argument, suggesting that the open source community have their day jobs (means) to have enough money to do what they really want to do (ends).
Another way to put this... About a decade ago, I rebuilt the deck on my house. Around the same time, upper management had decided to outsource our datacenter (ostensibly based on an internal study that concluded no such thing, but there were some honkin' big bonuses/promotions awarded to those who figured out a way to sack nearly 80 people). When it came time to decide what to do when the axe fell, I realized that my then 14 year career in IT had not generated even a fraction of the satisfaction that I'd gotten from the two months I spent after work rebuilding the deck. Long story short, I found a low-pressure 2nd shift job and went back to school. Now I have a BS and MS under my belt and work that involves building prototype instrumentation systems for wind tunnel testing. Even without adjusting for inflation, I'm earning less money than I was in IT, but no amount of money could convince me to go back. I can't really say whether my work has improved in quality since the switch; I think it has, but the work itself is pretty apples and oranges.
“This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” - Douglas Adams
Morality — Biological or Philosophical?
In his book, The Moral Animal, Robert Wright used evolutionary psychology to explain how morality developed and why, back in 1995. It's an excellent read up until the end when he tried to close on an optimistic note. Up to that point, he presented a pretty cynical view of human motivation...
Definitely a fascinating read and an interesting topic. Combined with Pascal Boyer's Religion Explained, one could end up feeling the urge to find a remote cabin in Idaho and stockpile it with food and guns, and withdraw from the world.