I am not a hacker. I am not a guy who really needs to know what is going on under the hood. When it comes to technology, I like it to “just work”. I don’t want to have to needlessly tinker with it. This does not mean that I wont tinker if the need arises. I just would prefer not to have to do it unless I want to do so or have to do so, but I prefer the option to be mine. While the words “some assembly required” actually make me a little nervous, increasingly words like “this will void your warranty” or “this will break your licensing agreement” make me even more so.

I am not an open source zealot. That being said, the idea of software that is open source, hardware that is open and standards that are open, garners an increasing amount of weight in my making the decision to use technology. Here are some examples:

  • When it came time for me to purchase a new wireless router, I chose one that was based on open source firmware. It works just fine for my needs as it is out of the box. I have no plans to flash it with alternative and more feature rich firmware an time soon. I may never do so. It is just the possibility to be able to do so that appealed to me over other alternatives. The fact that I could add features or capabilities beyond the factory defaults if I wanted to was a huge selling point.
  • One of the big selling points in the purchase of my Nokia N800 was the fact that the software platform that drives it is open source and the Nokia’s own developers are really active participants in the open source project. The platform is based on Linux so there are hundreds of applications being ported to the platform. In other words, out of the box the device is very useful but with so many others able to develop for the N800, it can be so much more.

  • I have increasingly been using Jabber for IM over iChat/AIM. It is the default protocol in the Google Talk client bundled with the N800. iChat also supports Jabber so it easy for my existing “buddies” to find me there.

  • I use GizmoProject over Skype for VoIP. Gizmo is open. Skype is not.

The point is, “open” has become huge for me and I really did not see it coming. I never would have imagined it before recently. Now it is one of the first things I consider when embarking on any technology decision. I suspect I am not alone. I suspect that there are many out there just like me. We are not hackers, makers, zealots or freaks. We don’t want to have to tinker with technology. We just want the option. We just want to be open to possibility.