The story when my father, definitely not a digital native, explained to me what’s behind the Open Source software’s philosophy. And he did it in the most inspiring way.
If you’re wondering why we should be grateful to Open Source software… well, I know that the most of you got already the answer(s). And I also know that probably the most of you belong to the new-technology-born generation too (meaning you’re a digital native).
I want to tell you a story that made me think. The story is about my father and his relationship with internet, computer and technology.
My father is turning 60. He’s a brilliant man, dedicated to his job and a sport passioned. He likes fishing and running, produces wine with his brothers and he is able of doing many many other brilliant things… but he’s DEFINITELY not good at computer stuff. He’s quite a muddling and cannot get how computer things usually work.
Despite that limitation of him, he understood why we should be grateful to Open Source software and what’s deeply behind the Open Source philosophy.
He received a laptop as a gift last Christmas. Everything went ok until he had to open a .doc file while his Microsoft Office trial period was over.
I told him on the phone (I currently live quite far from him) that the wiser step to do was to buy the Microsoft Office software, as it’s the only word processor he can use. The truth is that Office is the only writing software he knows and therefore can use. Eventually, he phoned me again saying he was unable to buy it – for a number of reasons that go beyond the purpose of this post.
“Why don’t you download an Open Source software?” I asked him.
“Not sure what you’re talking about but let’s give it a go”, he replied to me.
I sent him an e-mail with all the steps to download the software, and he successfully did it. I thought that all ended well until I received another phone call.
He was my father.
He was installing the software when a window popped up asking to register to the software’s site. He didn’t know why he should do it.
“It’s a free software, dad. They are asking that to have feedback first and to offer a sort of online support in case you got in trouble. People join the community and help each other. No worries, you can easily skip it, it’s not mandatory and you can use the software anyway,” I told him.
His answer left me speechless. He wanted me to explain him how to enter his registration data on the software’s website.
“I don’t pay for that software. I can’t help people out as I’m the one who actually needs support from other people, but I believe it’s our duty at least to send them some feedback and be available for any other questions. We kind of owe it to the people who work their arse out to make free software happen.”
Maybe if all the Open Source software users didn’t take the whole Open Source stuffs for granted, the world would be less mean and unicorns would freely run in the meadows.