Money / I’m Free: Content Management’s Greatest Hits

Content Management's Greatest Hits

This week Content Management’s Greatest Hits highlights a pair of songs representing the (seemingly interminable) debate between proprietary and open source solutions, and featuring the leading bands of the British invasion, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones:

  • Money (That’s What I Want)
  • I’m Free

While technically “Money (That’s What I Want)” was a single by Barret Strong in 1959, most people know it from the Beatles’ version, featured on 1963′s With the Beatles (thanks Wikipedia):

“I’m Free” was featured on The Rolling Stones’ 1965 album Out of Our Heads in the UK, and December’s Children (and Everybody’s) in the US.

“Money (That’s What I Want)” was written by Barry Gordy and Janie Bradford, and its refrain is well known:

The best things in life are free
But you can keep ‘em for the birds and bees
Now give me money, that’s what I want
That’s what I want, that’s what I want
. . .
Money don’t get everything it’s true
But what it don’t get, I can’t use
Now give me money, that’s what I want
That’s what I want, that’s what I want

Jagger and Richards, on the other hand, argue for the value of free:

I’m free to do what I want, any old time
I’m free to do what I want, any old time
So love me, hold me, love me, hold me
I’m free any old time to get what I want

In the world of software, of course, we have proprietary solutions and open source / free software solutions. (Sometimes people describe these are commercial versus open source, but open source software can still be commercial, and proprietary software can be given away free of charge).

Recently it’s been popular to describe open source platforms as “free as in puppies,” the implication being that while there is no initial cost the total cost of ownership will be substantial. But this argument misses the key resonance of “free” in free software. (It also misses the fact that puppies you buy, as opposed to getting free, come with the same necessary time investment and cost of ownership – see the HSUS Top Five Reasons to Adopt).

What’s meant by the “free” in free software, of course, isn’t just free-of-charge (gratis), but free-of-restrictions (libre). Put another way, open source platforms are free as in “free speech” (or free as in freedom) rather than free as in “free beer.” Or, Free to do what I want, any old time . . .

Either way, don’t fall into the selection myth. A capable platform (open source or proprietary) is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a successful CMS project. There is no one true solution, and there are most likely a handful to a dozen options all of which could be the foundation for a successful implementation.

Bonus Cover Renditions:

The Flying Lizard’s version of Money (That’s What I Want):

The Soup Dragons version of I’m Free:

About the Author

Formerly the Managing Director of Boston Connective DX office, John's passion for technology and the role of CMS are clear in his point of view.

More articles from John Eckman

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