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The sandwich bar

Imagine that you are the owner of a well-running sandwich bar in a little town. And as your sandwich bar gets more and more customers, you decide to engage an assistant to help you. And because your assistant is trustworthy and capable, you delegate more and more reponsibilities to him.

Then imagine that you need to move to another town and designate your assistant to become the manager of your sandwich bar. The manager continues to send you regular financial reports about your sandwich bar.

Now imagine that after some time you discover that the manager of your sandwich bar would refuse to show the invoices he received and issued, and the statements of your bank accounts, saying “My financial reports are enough, I don’t want you to see the underlying detailed bookings because it is my privacy how I realized the results.”

How would you react? You would probably fire this manager, maybe even file a lawsuit against him.

That’s how enterprises are run. The managers do the work of ruling, and they write regular activity reports to the owners. The managers get a salary, and the owners get the profit. The owners continue to control their enterprise because they can fire their managers at any moment.

That’s how enterprises are run, and that’s also how a computer works. The computer hardware are the rooms of your sandwich bar, the operating system is the manager. You communicate with your manager using the keyboard and the monitor.

The point of this story is that if you fire such a manager in a real-world enterprise, why do you run a closed-source software on your computer?

And although this story was written for enterprises, it applies to public institutions as well except for some vocabulary. Replace “owner” by “director” and “profit” by “honour”.

I hope that this picture opens your eyes and that you start to feel with me why it is important to wake up.