Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Miguel de Icaza on Channel 9

Channel 9 is a relatively new website from Microsoft that features webcasts of interviews from the trenches at Microsoft, that range from exposes of individual employees to discussions of new technologies from Microsoft to general discussions of Computing theory. It’s all very interesting, and it shows that while myself and others may distrust Microsoft for their business practices, the people creating the technology are really passionate about. And Microsoft is much more willing than they used to be to release new technologies, like F#, as open technology.

Channel 9 has been an entertaining resource to listen to while I work, and see some of what’s coming from Microsoft without a lot of the marketing angle that you get from other sources of Microsoft information. Incidentally, Microsoft has also formed a new site, Port 25, which focuses on Open Source issues and Microsoft.

When Miguel de Icaza, founding member of the GNOME and Mono Projects, was at the Lang.NET 2008 Conference in Redmond, he was asked to appear on Channel 9 to talk about Open Source, Mono, and Moonlight. The interview, which is alongside Dragos Manolescu (a member of Microsoft Live Labs), where Miguel talks about the what Open Source means, and about why so many people in the Open Source world dislike Microsoft, and why their feelings are perhaps misplaced.

While I tend to disagree with Miguel when it comes to Politics, and I was really, really leery when he founded Mono, I’ve always respected his ability as a hacker and as a leader of open projects, and over time, I came to quite like .NET and Mono. He holds himself well, and despite his seeming inability to remember a lot of the pop-culture things he wants to reference, behaves sensibly and intelligently. I love Open Source Software, I see the value in the GNU and the GPL. But the work of the Free Software Foundation is often overshadowed by the zealotry inherent in many of it’s members, which simply isn’t shared by most of the community.

Most of us prefer Free/Open Source software, and will seek to use it over proprietary software, but as Miguel says, Proprietary software has a place, and it’s really great to see companies like Microsoft beginning to investigate and even embrace open technologies and philosophies. Sure, I still don’t trust them entirely (check out my comments on OOXML), it’s great to see how the folks in the trenches are really just there for the technology, and that management is once again supporting the teams who are just interested in hacking.