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How to think like open source pioneer Michael Tiemann

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Red Hat
Interviews
OSS

Ancient Greece had its Great Explainers, one of whom was Plato. The open source community has its Great Explainers, one of whom is Michael Tiemann.

Several thousand feet in the air, in a conference room on the 10th floor of Red Hat's Raleigh, NC headquarters, Tiemann is prognosticating. The place affords the kind of scope he relishes: broad, sweeping, stretched to a horizon that (this morning, anyway) seems bright. As the company's VP of Open Source Affairs explains what differentiates an open source software company from other firms in a crowded market, he exhibits the idiosyncrasy that has marked his writing for decades: the tendency to pepper his exposition of open source principles with pithy maxims from a diverse range of philosophers, politicians, political economists, and popular writers. It's a habit borne, he says, of the necessity of finding something that resonates with the many skeptics he's confronted over the years—because necessity, he quips (quoting Plato, of course), is the mother of all invention.

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