While in Barcelona this weekend I was privileged to attend a match with Manel Sarasa, co-founder and CEO of OpenBravo (open-source ERP), who seems to know everyone in Barcelona, including the most important people, i.e., those with access to the presidential lounge at FC Barcelona so that we, too, could eat and meet there.
While it was great to gawk at famous Catalans, the best part of the match (aside from seeing Henry put one past the goalkeeper) may well have come after the final whistle blew.
Within 20 minutes the stadium had emptied, and Manel and I went out to sit in the president's chair. Opposite me were the words "Mes Que Un Club." More than a club.
Barcelona firmly believes that it is about football in the purest sense (well, Arsenal is the purest form of football, but I'll just have to disagree with Barca on this :-), but also about something more. About social responsibility (hence, it "advertises" UNICEF instead of some gambling company (Bwin, for example) on its jerseys). About giving back to its community.
Open source is the same. There are those who try to minimize its impact by saying, "It's just a development methodology. This is a great way to contain, to neuter its impact. It is not a good way to realize its potential.
Open source is about community before it is about code. This is what so many miss, including many within the open-source business community. It has the potential to be more efficient, more productive, better quality, etc. But if this were all that is was, it wouldn't be very special.
If you're wondering why your project hasn't taken off, or why you're not reaping open-source rewards in the same way as, say, Red Hat, look inside. It very likely has to do with how you approach open source. If you view it through a purely utilitarian lens, you're almost certainly halting your ability to harness it fully.
If you're playing ugly football, in other words, it's very likely because you haven't realized just how much mes que un software development methodology open source can be.