The Prudential interview

I’ve spent a lot of time and effort since 1997 developing effective propaganda tactics for
reaching the business world on behalf of the hacker community — among other things, by
popularizing the term ‘open source’. If you want to grok how this is done, read
my October 15 interview with a bunch of Prudential Securities investors.

Pay attention to style as well as content. This is the language you have to learn to speak
to reach the people who write big checks. It’s not very complicated, if you just bear in mind
that these people are obsessed with two things: risk management and return on investment. As they should be — it’s their job.

7 thoughts on “The Prudential interview

  1. I tend to agrees with you about DCMA and software patent, it is always a problem. You know after i read about microsoft at Groklaw.net and other thing about software problem and DCMA. so i thought i want to anaylse DCMA and software patent and to point out the problems and show the exhibit about it. Oh well, I never been good at making the strong points about those anyway. :\

  2. As I mentioned to you in a previous e-mail, I’m a business major myself. But I see myself as being “on the hackers side” because I like what you guys are doing. It’s adventurous and very effective!

    Also, speaking as a business droid, even one with hackish tendencies I have to say you are speaking the language well. In fact you’re speaking it better than the average Bizdroid does. Most people in business seem to forget what they are there for.

    You’re cutting through the rhetoric that PR deparments do to brainwash people into thinking the corporation exsists for it’s own sake and not that it’s existence is always entirely dependent on providing value. As Jack Welsh said (Now THAT man is a hacker!) “Only our customers can give us job security”.

    I want to know what it is that I can do to ‘help the hackish cause’. I can’t program. Sorry, I tried for ten years but I’m just hopeless at it. But I do to a greater extent than most grok what you’re on about and I’m a very skilled communicator.

    Is it just enough that I have the right attitude? The commitment to adventurous problem solving? I remember that people once thought that was what business was about. Now people have become so focused on the end of making profits that they’ve forgotten that the important thing is considering the means by which they are made – providing something of value.

    Also, I was interested in your thoughts on the Cluetrain Manifesto. I’ve been reading that lately and it’s absolutely fascinating.

  3. As I am norwegian myself, I am
    interested in what you said about the
    goverment in Norway converting to
    linux. I know some good things have
    happend in that direction, but if you
    have any spesific news it would be
    interesting to hear.

  4. =====================================
    Eric Raymond: It’s interesting that you mention retail, because that’s actually a relatively high-penetration area for us. There’s a lot of stuff going on in Linux point of sale systems and related areas, you know, supply chain, inventory control. Some of those other verticals we haven’t got a lot of traction in yet. I don’t really know why. I don’t have a clear understanding of what distinguishes one vertical from the other.

    In general, in my model of the changeover, verticals are probably the last to go after horizontal infrastructure in middleware. But I can’t really distinguish between different verticals very well.
    =======================================

    My name is Robert Conley and I am the head programmer at Plasma Automation. We make metal cutting machines using an x-y table, a plasma automation, and a CAD/CAM system based on Windows.

    I follow your writing and noticed the above yesterday in your Prudential interview. In particular the following comment stood out.

    ======================
    Some of those other verticals we haven’t got a lot of traction in yet. I don’t really know why.
    ======================

    Now I am not knowlegable about every thing system out there but in the market I work for the biggest stumbling block is drivers. We have to control hardware sometimes with exterme precision. We rely on the drivers that various motion control vendors (http://www.galilmc.com) provide in order to get this to work.

    We could try using a linux/open source solution but since there so much not done we would have to spend a lot of time estentially re-inventing the wheel. Also as a rule companies that are doing this are not big enough to support more than a half-dozen types of hardware. For example we have a list of a three brands of computers that can used to control our machines. We simply don’t have the manpower to test any more.

    As for why cash registers and not my market, I was recently involved helping a friend service some cash registers for beer distributors. My guess is that cash registers are primarily are alternate computer that has a built-in database. They have their own displays and keyboards but from what I seen of the programming documentation they are not far from their PC versions. So it was easier for those manufacturers to adapt Linux to their needs.

    What solutions are there for this problem! The biggest problem I see is that the general interest isn’t there. The more specialized and narrow the programming problem the less there are available to work on.

    I found this out while working on my open source mercury/gemini space simulation for orbiter sim http://www.orbitersim.com, http://home.alltel.net/estar/orbiter.html. I have receive a half dozen code suggestions in the two years I have been working on it. I have come to believe that it is because I have to rely on the interest of the portion of the world’s population who are a) interested in realistic space sim, b) interested in mercury, gemini, c) interested in programming d) understanding physics. Not a great number to be sure.

    This is the same problem that afflicts vertical markets. How many people are there and capable of writing open source drivers AND HARDWARE for servo motors.

    I hope this helps
    Rob Conley

  5. Mr. Raymond,

    This may be the first time that I’ve been to your weblog. It looks pretty neat.

    I hope that you and yours have had a great Thanksgiving.

    Keep up the good work… Thanks!

  6. We could try using a linux/open source solution but since there so much not done we would have to spend a lot of time estentially re-inventing the wheel. Also as a rule companies that are doing this are not big enough to support more than a half-dozen types of hardware. For example we have a list of a three brands of computers that can used to control our machines. We simply don’t have the manpower to test any more.

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