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Now you’re either on the bus or off the bus

By John | September 15, 2007

“`There are going to be times,’ says Kesey, `when we can’t wait for somebody. Now you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place–then it won’t make a damn.’ And nobody had to have it spelled out for them. Everything was becoming allegorical, understood by the group mind, and especially this: `You’re either on the bus…or off the bus.” (Wolfe: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, p. 74)

I haven’t read the novels of Tom Wolfe, Jack Kerouac and, Ken Kesey in many years. In the summer of 1976, I was fascinated with a group of writers and musicians who represented a concept of freedom that was swirling in my consciousness at the time. I think that in a three-week period I read On the Road, Sometimes a Great Notion, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I was also listening to a lot of Grateful Dead and doing a little bit of experimentation of my own (if you get my drift). Today. those three books all seem to be a blur, but I did take away a few life lessons from them. First, I truly appreciated the idea of freedom to rebel against conformity, even if it’s just the freedom to get in a car or bus and travel. Second, I have always been a “get on the bus or off the bus” kind of a person, and I have used this analogy many times in my career.

I think that those were the original ideas that pushed me into programming in the first place. In 1976, if you were under 20 years old and playing with a computer, you were not conforming. As late as 1985, I was still fascinated when I overheard a conversation about computers. I would always chime in and eagerly ask, “Do you work with computers, too?” Now, everyone works with computers.

So, a few years ago when I started getting into this open source movement, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was fascinated with this emerging technology movement. The internet was cool, of course, but the open source thing was different for me. Recently, Mark Hinkle of Zenoss invited me to join its Software Freedom Road Rally (SFRR) on September 28th, and, when I started to write this blog, it hit me: I am fascinated with the open source movement for the same reason that I got into programming in the first place. Over the last thirty years, what I though was originally cool is actually pretty darn normal. Maybe it’s time to dust off those books and read them again before the SFRR to enhance my “On the Bus again” experience. This time, however, all my experimentation will be restricted to my laptop and my IPOD (again, if you get my drift).


Topics: 451, OSS, barcampesm, bmc, caos, esm, groundwork, groundworkopensource, hp, hyperic, ibm, nagios, netcool, opennms, opensource, puppet, tivoli, zabbix, zenoss | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Now you’re either on the bus or off the bus”

  1. onset « the forking path Says:
    May 20th, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    [...] their drive, and with their intelligence.  And somehow I am lucky enough to have been invited to get on the bus with them. So, I have packed my kayak, made a leap of faith , and dove in the water.  Just have to look out [...]