Amateurs, professionals, and open source


Paul Graham, author of Hackers and Painters, has written an interesting piece on What Business Can Learn From Open Source. He compares blogging to open source software, as bottom-up endeavors by people doing what they love. Most importantly, they are done by “amateurs” rather than professionals, almost by definition. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, by the wise old Marshall McLuhan: “Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of the total awareness of the individual and the critical awareness of the groundrules of society. The amateur can afford to lose. The professional tends to classify and specialize, to accept uncritically the groundrules of the environment. The groundrules provided by the mass response of his colleagues serve as a pervasive environment of which he is contentedly unaware. The ‘expert’ is the man who stays put.” Today this is more true than ever. Make sure that you’re an amateur at at least some of the things that you do!