Judging Companies on the open source offerings

blog computing culture

published 2024-03-16 22:21

updated 2024-03-16 23:49

Look, I'll be real. This whole "kinda a zealot" thing, I'm sure it's getting on your nerves. But it's not just for fun! I really do think it's important, and I actually care about this. This one isn't extolling the virtues of open source though, or my own personal journey or anything. No.

I'm giving you a lens that I frequently find myself looking through.

Recently, I once again found myself in need of a new smartphone. While replacing the cracked screen on my old phone, glue got in the front camera and ruined my ability to video call my family. I hate this process, because smart phones really don't cater to me. I've always used an Android phone, but I'll be the first to tell you it fucking sucks, and if iOS makes you happy by all means, use it.

When I say Android sucks, I think I mean something most people don't. I specifically mean AOSP. I haven't had any experience with Google Play Services since way back in 2015, around the time I first got my smartphone. So, honestly, I really don't know what it's like.

Lured in through Android's open source nature, AOSP is re-soundly a marketing scheme. I'm grateful for it's existence, truly, it's amazing software for what it does, but the politics google plays with it, is truly annoying. I suppose it's at least better than being totally closed? Google is also fucking terrible at protocols. They're well known for deprecating products, but man their protocols really struck out. RCS sucks. MTP is a trashfire. I know they're capable of building good protocols since they made ProtoBuf and QUIC, but good lord, google really has no incentive to make good consumer protocols because of AOSP. It sucks. But hey, for all the data they collect, they're not the ones facilitating genocide in Myanmar, or conducting immoral experiments on their users... Hmm, that ones a tougher sell.

Similarly, this lens really helped improve Meta's image in my eyes. I'm mean, I still don't fuck with the zuck, at least with any of his products, but the open source efforts coming out of Meta are noteworthy. Regardless of your feelings about React, or GraphQL, or whether or not Llama counts as open source; these are all industry shaping tool chains. I've used these libraries myself, and came away at least understanding if not outright enjoying the DevX. It's hard to deny they make good software, at least if you have FAANG problems. Now, it still isn't enough for me to consider working there, nor does it exonerate the other employees there in my eyes, but it sure does help.

How much value should we place on these offerings? What weight do you give to their politics? Personally, I'm not interested in products. You don't want me as a consumer, I'm really annoying I promise, and I'm certain I'm not part of your target audience anyway. It leaves me with only these other two options. I think it's important to think about these when evaluating what role we want businesses to play in our lives.

As for Apple and it's ecosystem; it isn't for me, doesn't cater to me, and so I don't think about them, mostly. It's nice when they champion user privacy (even though they often lie), it sucks when they use their position as a monopoly to stifle the market. Their politics is all I can judge them on, and that itself is a privilege. They don't come out too clean either.