Plone’s Value Proposition

Originally posted at

The theory underlying Plone’s personal-ad campaign.

At the marketing workshop in Vienna, one of the exercises we conducted was an informal poll of the personality traits and cultural values that people associate with the plone community.

Motivating this exercise was an exploration of the recent Plone personal ad, which came out of the New Orleans Symposium.

This anthropomorphizing of Plone was meant to embody the idea that software has a personality, and that since writing code is form of creative expression, the values of the author will inevitably be expressed in its features. So, for example, I will be suprised the day that Adobe easily allows for the assignment of Creative Commons licenses to content created using their tools, but no one is surprised by the fact that the Mediawiki wiki-engine deafualts to this license.

If you accept this position, then selecting the right CMS is more than a matter checking off features on a matix. It becomes essential that the vendor’s values are consistent with the client’s mission. In the case of an open source project, the “vendor” is really an entire ecology, comprised of of the community, the software, and the processes and structures which bind them together.

Here are some of the values that members of the Plone community currently associate with this project:

  • freedom
  • good society
  • democracy
  • egalitarian
  • independent
  • networking
  • meritocracy
  • honesty
  • elegant
  • open
  • flexibility
  • fun
  • quick
  • friendship
  • collaboration

To be sure, many of these qualities are characteristic of Open Source, and beyond.  But this dimension of analysis is missing from most RFPs.

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