Reflections on “The Cathedral and The Bazaar”

A very dear friend of mine, Vaughan Merlyn, recently suggested that I re-read Eric Raymond‘s book, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar.”  It’s been a while since I’ve picked this up and frankly I’d forgotten much of it.

The very first time I read “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” I was working for a company in the open-source software space.  At that time, many years ago now, I was relocating my desk from the Cathedral into the Bazaar, and the book offered me valuable cultural perspective.  At this writing, nearly 10 years later, the whole open-source versus closed-source dialogue is in quite a different place and it almost feels as awkward to reflect upon open-source development as some sort of alternative to mainstream as it does to think about whether my car is American, Japanese, Korean, German, or Mexican (it’s a bit of all those and it’s just the way it is these days).

My most recent reading of this book though gives me a completely different serving of brain food, for which I’m grateful to Mr. Raymond.  I’d like to share a couple of those points with you here.

Cybercrime increasing on Facebook

There’s a piece by Jim Finkle in Reuters this morning about the rise in cybercrime in social networking sites.¬† The article mentions that MySpace had been plagued by this for several years, but now with the increasing popularity of Facebook, the criminals are going where the game is.

Per the article, “Facebook is the social network du jour. Attackers go where the people go. Always,” said Mary Landesman, a senior researcher at Web security company ScanSafe.


Scammers break into accounts posing as friends of users, sending spam that directs them to websites that steal personal information and spread viruses. Hackers tend to take control of infected PCs for identity theft, spamming and other mischief.

Web 2.0 Collaboration Support from Chinese Government

One of the contrarian voices in enterprise use of Web 2.0 technologies has often been doubt of the value of the “Wisdom of Crowds.” That is, an apprehension that the input from widespread collaboration may have only marginal value toward the development of the product or initiative, or even worse- will be a waste of time and a distraction.The contrarian voice always has value, as I’ve said before, but recently I’ve come across a very interesting instance of an advocate for the “Wisdom of Crowds” from a very unlikely place- the government of Communist China!

Web 2.0 and ITIL

I’ve spoken often about the promise of Web 2.0 technologies for the enterprise (and society in general) and the potential of rich collaboration that these technologies facilitate. Recently, I’ve been working on a concept that applies a social networking layer on top of ITIL processes. Let me elaborate on that a bit.

Multiple Skins: Still a Problem for Social Networking Sites

I’ve written before about how the various aspects of our lives drive us to use multiple online personas, and that this is a shortcoming of social networking sites today. What I’m referring to here is that we all wear multiple “skins,” and to represent these personas online one needs separate profiles on separate social networking sites for our professional skin, our hobby skin, our family skin, our community skin, and so on. This is a problem of social networking sites today, and I’ve argued that it’s an architectural problem.