Linux Business News
Ponytails Hurt Open Source, Peter Quinn Says
Ousted Massachusetts Technologist Speaks at LinuxWorld in Australia
Mar. 29, 2006 12:00 PM
Ousted Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn (pictured) simply won't leave the stage, it seems. Months after his controversial tenure in The Commonwealth, which ended in the wake of his controversial effort to place open source on 50,000 desktops throughout state government, Quinn was recently in the news with remarks he made about "sandals and ponytails" at the inaugural Linuxworld Australia event in Sydney.
Quinn reportedly said that the open-source community's dress code works against it, that stodgy IT managers to whom "appearance matters" are loathe to adopt software that comes from the "sandal and ponytail set" who form a stererotype of the open source community.
This revelation may come as a shock to the Silicon Valley area, for example, known for its non-traditional dress code for at least two decades, in a technology culture that has also long featured ping-pong tables, on-site massages, and the occasional dog walking around the premises.
"Open source has an unprofessional appearance, and the community needs to be more business savvy in order to start to make inroads in areas traditionally dominated by commercial software vendors," Quinn reportedly said during his presentation in Australia. Quinn added that this aura of unprofessionalsim makes it difficult for open-source advocates within government to open up, so to speak, about their preference for the less expensive open-source approach.
Quinn had supported the OpenDocument office document format during his stint at Massachusetts CIO, but said during his Australia speech that the "lobbying power and cash that's available for opponents of open source" provides a formidable obstacle to those in favor of moving toward open source. He did place some blame on the IT community as well, for thinking too much in technology terms as opposed to business terms and for "their inability to articulate correctly the business opportunities" inherent in the open-source approach.
Open source is said by some analysts to be driving profits out of the software industry, and a recent Enterprise Open Source Magazine article posted online also questioned its potential for job creation. Meanwhile, that most decidedly un-Open Source company, Microsoft, may be facing an internal rebellion of sorts over its failure to deliver the next generation of the Windows operating system. It seems that in the midst of an ongoing technology recovery, there are few happy faces, whether framed by ponytails or propelled by wingtips.