That morning, Eric received an emailed tip from a friend, suggesting he look at the prior day's announcement from Netscape, and cryptically commenting "I think someone's been reading your paper." And so Eric did -- and was thunderstruck by the fact that a major corporation seemed to be implementing his software-management ideas. Indeed, many parts of the announcement seemed to be quoting CatB directly.
He cold-called Netscape Communications Corporation's main telephone number, working through a bureaucratic maze for fifteen minutes, seeming to reach a dead end at a voicemail mailbox. His bewildered message went something like, "Hello, my name is Eric Raymond, and I think I had something to do with your announcement. Could somebody please call me?" Within the hour, Roseanne Cino of Netscape Marketing called back, saying, "Yes, all of our top people read your paper and loved it. Jim Barksdale is giving your name to the national press, and wants to meet you."
As Eric says, "This was the moment of vindication our tribe had been waiting for for twenty years." During all that time, the technical/Unix community had received essentially nothing but brushoffs, being considered impractical freaks in sandals, even though it offered clearly better technology. It was clear that the problem was not one of substance, but of perception, and Eric saw that Mozilla was our key to changing that.
We'd never had a success before, and a procedural analysis of the traditional Unix evangelism strategy, typically carried out by software engineers within their own companies, showed why. In a such a situation, you typically would:
- Become excited by some great technology, and become impressed by its potential to change the world for the better.
- Talk it up to your peers.
- Join your peers in approaching the next level of management, trying to get them excited, and hope that the excitement trickles upward until it reaches the top and changes company policies.
- Sit back and wait for the people at the top to clap their hands to their foreheads, and exclaim in a sudden burst of enlightenment, "Gosh, we were wrong all along! But we'll change our fundamental policies and fix everything!"
Enlightenment doesn't flow uphill
Of course, real authority hierarchies don't work that way. Instead, you have, in rough terms, three strata.
- Decision-makers inhabit the top of the hierarchy.
- Below them are the middle managers, whose job is to be conservers of organizational stability. When asked to change company policies, their job is to say "no."
- At the bottom are the implementers.