So I recently was presented with the opportunity to visit a foreign country that we can say was at least second world, it certainly wasn’t the US or the UK.  Of course being the arrogant and somewhat ignorant American it turns out, I had made the assumption that everyone would speak English.  Maybe not as well as I since I have been speaking it since a very young age but I figured as most Americans that if I spoke it slowly enough everyone would understand me and be able to answer back in English.

Well I am sure you can guess by the lead in here that things did not go as planned.   There were more than a few uncomfortable moments and allot of charades just to order coffee and a cheeseburger.   The good news is that I finally did start picking up some of the language and was able to adapt at least minimally to be in what I would call survival mode.

I was reminded during this ordeal of a scene from a very good movie I have seen several times The 13th Warrior.  If you haven’t seen it I would highly recommend it.  To get back to the point however, the scene in the movie is one where the oddball character portrayed by Antonio Banderas who is Arabic is sitting around a fire with a bunch of Vikings.  For days he has sat silently listening to them telling stories and talking in their native tongue.  After several days he starts speaking their language back to them and they are all shocked.

The moral and wrap up I guess is in order.  So as I sat around listening to them speak their language I started to pick up stray words and phrases that were repeated often or had similar sounds to words in English.  Now I was nowhere near as good as Antonio’s character and it would have taken me months but I think in time I could have begun to learn that way as well.

But Brad….how does this related to Open Source at all??  Simply stated we all at one time or another have had the common tongue forced upon us (read closed source software).  We each continue to speak it and use it because it’s what we know, it’s our comfort zone.  It’s certainly not because it’s the best or the cheapest to use but it’s easy to become complacent and “go with the flow”.  However, when we start to look and listen to Open Source software we soon realize that the language is not that different.  The look and feel is very near the same.  The things it can do for us are very much the same.  So if you read this and are an Open Source skeptic I urge you to try out an Open Source app and see if you don’t find like Antonio and I, that things aren’t all that different and scary after all.



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