Originally Published: Monday, 13 December 1999 Author: Jerry Hatchett
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

The Spotlight of Attention

Two weeks ago, I thought the business of Linux was booming. I really did. I wrote about it, explained my opinions as to the reasoning behind it, and expressed my optimism that it would continue. I was wrong. This is not a boom. The activity of Linux as a business over the past two weeks is more akin to a nuclear explosion than a simple boom. Investors -- and traders -- are scampering about in a frenzied search for anything that might have the Linux buzzword attached to it in any way, because these companies are just plain hot! It's grown even more interesting lately, and I'd love to dig a bit deeper into it....

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Two weeks ago, I thought the business of Linux was booming. I really did. I wrote about it, explained my opinions as to the reasoning behind it, and expressed my optimism that it would continue. I was wrong. This is not a boom. The activity of Linux as a business over the past two weeks is more akin to a nuclear explosion than a simple boom. Investors -- and traders -- are scampering about in a frenzied search for anything that might have the Linux buzzword attached to it in any way, because these companies are just plain hot! It's grown even more interesting lately, and I'd love to dig a bit deeper into it.

But I'm not going to do that digging right now. (Fooled you, huh?) This article is not about the stock market and it's not about money. It's about a by-product of money, called attention. You see, when money is being made, you may know full well that eyes will turn toward it. And that's happening right now with Linux in a large way. A year ago, it was tough to find anyone outside the hardcore computer world who had heard the word "Linux." Six months ago, many more had heard of it, but didn't really have a foggy notion as to what it was. Today, it's very frequently on the fingertips and lips of not only computer aficionados and those who cater to them, but also to the members of the financial community and the press who serves them. Serious capital has moved into the game and will continue to move in at an expansive rate. This phrase is now clearly emblazoned on the wall: THE GAME HAS CHANGED.

Linux has been discovered. It can no longer remain the exclusive domain of the cyber-champions who made it what it is. It doesn't matter whether I think this is good or bad. And it doesn't matter whether you think it's good or bad. For no matter the opinion, the reality is the same. Linux is growing up and venturing away from the nest that incubated and hatched it.

I know some disagree with my personal position that the Linux community should make more of an effort to move to the masses, and I'm truly not trying to fan the flames of controversy. But the simple fact is that the masses are now moving money into the effort in a huge way. When people commit money, they expect something in return. If those first in line fail to deliver that "something," then someone else will. And if nobody else exists who can deliver it, someone will learn. It's just the way things work; it's been that way for a long, long time. Linux will become more mainstream and it will move to the masses. Slay Microsoft? I doubt it. Breach the armor, and most importantly, do it with a better mousetrap? You bet. The activity of late has me more convinced of that than ever. In fact, I think the move to mainstream is going to be much quicker than anyone ever anticipated.

On a very personal level (as in, read last week's article about being trapped in the world of Windows at the office), I'm thrilled to see the pace quickening. Relief may come sooner rather than later. And on a slightly more philosophical plateau, I feel a sense of satisfaction to be just a tiny cog in the wheels of change to a better way of computing. I think the personal computer is as big a step forward for our civilization as the railroad was when the first tracks were laid. When you sit in front of one, day in and day out, I know it's easy to lose that perspective. But I believe it to be true with all my heart. I also believe that the revolution is in its infancy, and that there's plenty of time to help shape the way things will be. Many of you who are reading this are in a position to be key players in defining that architecture. May I respectfully suggest that you seize the opportunity that the current spotlight of attention is offering, and work to show the computing world a better way. I for one am tired of the steam locomotive already!

Jerry Hatchett, hatchett@futuresouth.com





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