By aseigo - Thursday, November 08, 2012
Free software has a history of creating and supporting cults of personality. Since it is a widespread human phenomenon, it is easy to understand how this happens. It is, however, unhelpful and destructive and we really ought to actively discourage it, starting by putting aside the current cults.
The most recent, though certainly not the only example, of this retrograde behavior was seen when Linus Torvalds started posting on Google+ about his recent sampling of various Free software desktop options. This made the rounds on various blogs, Slashdot, Linux Today, etc. Why do we care what Linus uses? Simply put: he's a super star in F/OSS and people hang on his every word as a result as if he's an oracle of all things technology. Spoiler alert: he's not.
His opinion on desktop software is as meaningful as his opinions on rocket ships, film production, oil recovery techniques, sociology, religious history, automobile engineering or any of the other topics he has no meaningful expertise in. Everyone will hold an opinion on things they use, such as cars or ships, and things they simply come into contact with, such as film and religion. Sharing our viewpoints is great and a necessary part of democratic discourse which can move societies along their evolutionary path. So opinions have value and can be hugely beneficial when mixed together with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other samples. The trick, however, is not letting those whose opinions are of no great value in terms of being based on greater understanding or access to relevant data become more important than other opinions in those discussions.Full article