Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Transparency - benefits and obligations

Whether in accounting, politics, or software - there's been an increasing amount of lip service paid to transparency. What a great word to fit into a sound bite. It conjures up images of light, and by slight extension, truth. Nobody wants to be in the "dark", so transparency must be good, right? In general, sure. But why - other than the feel good factor, why should anyone care about transparency?

Having personally observed this force at play in Open Source for the last year now, I see the key benefits of:
  • Holding people accountable - if all the facts are exposed, there's little to no wiggle room for any misunderstandings: intentional or not. Pass thru the data and minimize the "spin". Allow people to make decisions based on real data.

  • Fostering discussion - as a corollary to the above: examining data allows for questions, interactions, and analysis from several angles. Any results are more keenly understood, with less assumptions.
These are the true benefits, and more importantly obligations of transparency.

Specific to software, it's what RFPs and POCs have attempted to sift out for years. Nothing facilitates it better than Open Source. You have access to everything in the company, from the source code on up. Download the product, see it in action, read thru the docs -- and -- directly compare what it does to your key business requirements.

1 comment:

One_Balanced_Mama said...

I accidentally happened upon your page, but I agree with every word you said. :)