Open source votes for Obama, and other inconsistencies

The open-source world appears to be voting for Democrat Obama en masse. But isn't open source a conservative phenomenon?

The next time you're tempted to pull out your copy of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention or your local LUG (Linux User Group), don't bother. While the open-source world often gets credited with Libertarian leanings, recent poll results from SourceForge, which it provided to me yesterday, don't support this view.

In fact, the poll of US-based Slashdot and SourceForge visitors has 56 percent of this largely open-source crowd voting for big-government Obama, with only 30 percent voting for McCain.

Outside the US, the poll found that 93 percent of international visitors to the sites would vote for Obama if only Acorn would manufacture their registration to vote. (Don't worry - it probably will. :-) A miniscule five percent opted for McCain, and most of them probably thought he was the Scottish usurper to 10 Downing Street, not a US presidential hopeful.

Despite the hippie-esque "free love, free software" soundbites of some early leaders of the open-source (err, "free software") movement, I'm a little surprised by the results.

No, it's not that I think anyone should be excited by McCain's potential presidency, but rather that I view open source as an inherently conservative phenomenon. It is a way of reining in excessive waste and power, and of putting power close to the people (read: system integrators, software users, and developers). These are inherently Republican ideals.

Instead, the Sourceforge crowd seems to be voting for centralized power and government solutions to local problems. Microsoft, in other words.

That said, if I were worried about the accuracy of the polls, I'd just need to correlate the presidential data with the "news source has the least amount of bias or media spin." The top vote? Fox News. Yep. Fox, that paragon of unbiased reporting, barely edged out The New York Times, the other neutral observer of the world's news.

Regardless, as Obama nears a likely four years of doling out stays in the Lincoln Bedroom, we can take heart that absolutely no one outside the US wants to hack his or Senator Biden's email, according to the poll. Could we get those pesky internationals to stop sending spam to Obama's country, too? :-)

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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