Jon "maddog" Hall's analogy on cost-of-ownership-only thinking
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I really enjoyed interviewing renowned open source advocate and President of Linux International, Jon "maddog " Hall. In our two-part podcast, Jon talks about where his nickname came from, his first encounter with Linux and Linus Torvalds, the promise and challenges for open source, the danger of education focused only on job training, consumerism, and more. I especially enjoyed this analogy of his on how silly it is to focus only on cost-of-ownership when valuing software.
You go down to your local store, you buy a CD. You take the CD home and you install it on your system. It cost you $5 -- one of the CDs in the rack of CDs is sitting there, you know, it costs you $5 and an hour of your time. You start up the program and it does absolutely nothing. The total cost of ownership is $5 and an hour of your time. But you go down to the same store, you buy another CD, take it home, it takes you an hour to install it. Same cost of ownership. But all of a sudden, you find out that your dog can let itself in and out of the house. Your kids come home from school, they've got straight A's for the first time in their entire lives ... and the next day, the income tax person calls you up and says, they found a mistake in your income tax and they owe you $200,000. And all of this was because of the software on that CD. The software on that CD is now infinitely valuable to you, but it still only cost you $5 and an hour of your time.
Now, obviously, total cost of ownership is important because if you can't afford the solution, if you don't have the $5 in your pocket, then you're stuck. But it is not something you should be concentrating on. You should be concentrating on what is the value of the answer.
LISTEN, Part 1 (24:41)
LISTEN, Part 2 (13:49)
One Laptop per Child