Monday, November 24, 2008

Werewolves of Reuse

I hate Kid Rock. I really hate Kid Rock. I thought that long-haired, hoarse-voiced rocker/rapper from Detroit saw his career go down in flames years ago. However, a few months ago, I turn on the radio and on comes a song that I believe to be the classic "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon. I'm ready to enjoy the song, and then Kid Rock's voice comes in out of nowhere for his song "All Summer Long." It's as if he grabbed a microphone at a karaoke bar and just started making up his own lyrics and melody.

I am in no way, shape, or form impressed by musicians and rappers that "borrow" old hits and exploit them to fill their own pockets. I don't care how much permission he might have obtained, I see Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" as a blatant ripoff that diminishes the integrity of the original song.

Borrowing and reuse, however, can have a very positive effect on software development. Plenty of companies offer development products that let teams reuse an environment for large scale projects, and this is increasingly true with more software-as-a-service and on-demand products. Mashups also embrace reuse, as companies like Serena and Kapow offer customized, already-created mashups that users can tinker with and add to. With an ever-growing focus on open source, developers frequently access existing source code written by the largest corporations and some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, and then experiment with it.

So while reuse and borrowing doesn't do the trick for me in music, software developers, keep rocking with that existing code.

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