One of the things I love about my job is that I get to meet a number of cool people. One of them, Mark Taylor, turned me on to a post by Georg Greve of the Free Software Foundation – Europe.

It echoes a number of things I’ve written about recently, although with much more clarity and coherence than I can muster.

In “It’s time for the community to take charge of its brand” Georg concisely explores topics that I rambled on for post after post. These include the fact that there is no substantial difference between the terms “Free Software” and “Open Source”, and that abuse of the term “is harmful for all companies and commercial endeavours in Free Software, as it weakens the ability to communicate an essential part of the unique sales proposition.”

I feel that pain every time I’m asked about the OpenNMS “enterprise” version.

While much of the article hit me as preaching to the choir, one bit was absolutely brilliant. Instead of referring to the users of open source software as “leeches” or “free loaders” he calls them “hermits”. I love it.

Like it or not, open source software has a large social component. Webster defines a hermit as “one that retires from society and lives in solitude”. Perfect. It doesn’t have a built in negative connotation (as in “blood sucking leeches”) but it does express the fact that using open source software without being a part of the community makes the experience less than what it could be. It’s much kinder – there is always hope that a hermit will come back down off the mountain – but with a leech all you want to do is remove it and kill it.

Of course, because Georg is part of the FSF, expect a number of ad hominem attacks labeling him crazy like that Stallman fella. His reasoning is so sound it is probably the only option his critics have.