[TriLUG] Generational differences in Free/Open Source Software

Andrew C. Oliver acoliver at buni.org
Tue Jun 19 12:48:40 EDT 2007

I don't view the world as being so flat.  I know plenty of elderly 
pragmatists and plenty of young idealists.  Go walk around the Red Hat 
campus next LUG meeting.  You'll see all ages and far more Stallmanists 
and Torvaldists.  Albeit most don't fit evenly with either.  Maybe the 
world isn't flat, states are neither red nor blue and most people are 
neither conservative nor liberal, pragmatist nor idealist...  says the 
libertarian leaning centrist.


Tanner Lovelace wrote:
> It's actually interesting to read about the differences in generations
> and then try to apply that to personalities in FOSS.  According to
> the book, Gen Xers (they call them 13ers, but I don't like that term)
> are those born from 1961 to 1981 and Boomers are those born
> in the 40s and 50s (don't remember the exact dates).  When you
> are born determines when you grow up and as such has a profound
> influence on your world view.  The book finds a repeating pattern
> of generations over the entire history of America and attempts to
> project from there.  The "Boomer" generation is what they call an
> "Idealist" generation.  This generational type tends to be more "spiritual"
> and inward looking.  Gen Xers, by comparison, are called a
> "Reactive" generation and they're much more pragmatic.
> Now, it's interesting to take this world view and apply it to FOSS
> personalities.  Richard Stallman, born 16 March 1953 falls squarely
> within the Boomer generation.  Linus Torvalds, by contrast, was born
> Dec 28, 1969 and falls squarely within Gen X.  Now based on my
> above description of Boomers as more "spiritual and inward looking"
> and Gen Xers as more pragmatic the views of both Stallman and
> Torvalds make sense and its easy to see why there's so much of a
> disconnect there.  Boomers like Stallman grew up after World War
> II when there was eternal optimism.  The US had vanquished the
> evil Nazi empire and people thought there was nothing they couldn't
> do.  Gen Xers like Torvalds, however, grew up with the previous generation
> absorbed looking inward at their own problems and largely ignored
> the younger generation besides telling them how bad they were.  (Note,
> btw, that the book specifically only deals with American generations
> and Torvalds, since he grew up in Finland, doesn't fit there entirely).
> It makes sense to me that the older generation would come up with
> something like the GPL.  From Stallman's view, the GPL attempts to
> codify good behavior in the area of software development.  It's also
> extremely ambitious.  The GPLv3 is just as ambitious and attempts to
> "fix" things Stallman thinks are wrong.
> Torvalds, on the other hand, chose the GPLv2 for what appear to be
> purely pragmatic reasons.  The GPLv2 is very good at keeping people
> from stealing other's source code.  It works for what Linus wants and,
> since the generation is generally naturally distrustful of the previous
> generation, changes in the license are looked upon with suspicion.
> Anyway, this was just something I found interesting, and was marginally
> on topic. :-)
> So, um,... discuss! :-)
> Cheers,
> Tanner
> On 6/19/07, Warren Myers <volcimaster at gmail.com> wrote:
>> YES!!!!
>> I was born in 81, so I'm not a millennial!!
>> WMM
>> On 6/19/07, Tanner Lovelace <clubjuggler at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On 6/19/07, Tom Eisenmenger <teisenmenger at charter.net> wrote:
>>>> Hmphhh.   I'm going to spend the rest of the day fretting as to
>>>> whether I'm an "old millenial" or perhaps even a "non-millenial".
>>>> How can I tell?
>>> As near as I can tell, the term Mellenials comes from the book
>>> Generations:The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 by
>>> Neil Howe and William Strauss.  (Coincidentally, I'm right in the
>>> middle of reading this book right now, based on a recommendation
>>> by Rob Rousseau.)  The book was written the year before the term
>>> Gen X was coined, so they call GenXers "13ers" (since it is the
>>> 13th generation in the U.S.) and they also call Gen Y "Mellenials".
>>> They say people in that generation were born starting about 1982.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Tanner (definitely a Gen Xer)
>>> --
>>> Tanner Lovelace
>>> clubjuggler at gmail dot com
>>> http://wtl.wayfarer.org/
>>> (fieldless) In fess two roundels in pale, a billet fesswise and an
>>> increscent, all sable.
>>> --
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>> --
>> http://warrenmyers.com
>> "God may not play dice with the universe, but something strange is going on
>> with the prime numbers." --Paul Erdős
>> "It's not possible. We are the type of people who have everything in our
>> favor going against us." --Ben Jarhvi, Short Circuit 2
>> --
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