Subject: Re: Journal / Trade Mag?
From: "David Kaufman" <david@gigawatt.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2005 20:48:00 -0500

Hi John,

John McDermott <jjm@jkintl.com> wrote:

> Yesterday I was reading a trade computer magazine.  One of those free
> ones many of us get.  It had a review of SSL VPN gateways.  All were
> commercial.  No open source products were mentioned.  The commercial
> products had a base price way over that affordable by most SMBs. [...]
>
> Is anyone considering some sort of trade pub to show users how to
> deploy/integrate FLOSS or even evaluating such software?

"Many of us" also get SysAdmin magazine, (used to get) the Perl Journal 
and also read Linux Magazine, Linux Journal and/or Linux Format all of 
which, though they may not be among "those free ones", evaluate open 
source solutions alongside proprietary products.

I guess the trade that you're in determines which trade journals you'll 
read.  Executives tends to read journals that interest executives with 
budgets to spend, and those journals, well ...help them spend it.  In 
that case, the publication is tailored properly to it's target audience.

> One client chose products to use based on what one executive read in
> trade pubs.  Clearly they used little open source because there were
> few articles about it in the trade pubs he read.

It might seem clear to you that the reason "they used little open 
source" was truly because they found "few articles about it" in those 
particular trade journals that the read, but there are plenty of other 
reasons business execs avoid FLOSS solutions.  Don't fall into the "Post 
hoc, ergo propter hoc" trap (After this, therefore because of this) 
because it might just be the other way around:  They might read those 
magazines because they tell them what they want to hear.  If you're 
responsible for the budget, then after you've been buying lots of 
big-ticket, high-end proprietary hardware or software for a few years, 
your focus tends to be squarely on justifying it's value to himself, and 
his superiors!

I have one client who invariably, when presented with several different 
technical solutions with similar features, will lean toward the 
"product" that's the most expensive.  Many people assume that the higher 
priced product "must be better".  It's hard to argue with such people... 
and usually pointless to try.  In come cases I'm sure they know exactly 
what they're doing and just have to spend their budgets by the end of 
the fiscal year or lose them, or get smaller ones next year.  Other 
rationalize that they are buying support, training, "skulls to crack" 
and so on, even though those companies actually charge extra for those 
things.

I don't know what journals you get, but the free ones I get (Network 
Computing and Information Week) would probably lose half their 
advertisers if they honestly compared the proprietary products that 
their advertisers sell side-by-side with perfectly capable zero-priced 
alternatives.  I mean, who is the free trade magazine really in business 
to serve, the reader or the advertiser?

So maybe a good investment for a FLOSS consultant would be to *buy* 
subscriptions to some less proprietary-biased magazines for their 
clients!

-dave