The Catherdral, The Bazaar and the Shopping Mall

Many people are now familiar with Eric Raymond's paper entitled "The Catherdral and The Bazaar".

I would like to suggest a third programming culture, the Shopping Mall. The Predominant programming environment has a lot of similarites with a Shopping Mall.

The US has exported may fine innovations over the years. The US has also developed and exploited many ideas so that many people actually thought originated there (TV, radio, automobiles, solid state electronics...). The Shopping Mall, if not invented in the US, has surely spread across the suburban landscape of the US and Australia with the aassumption of most of its patrons that is was invented in the US.

A Shopping Mall requires a large amount of real estate to function. This includes provision for car parking and entertainment areas as well as for shops and department stores it manages to attract.

A Shopping Mall provides a "consistent shopping experience". Shoppers can visit malls across the state or country and even to other countries and the layout and sometimes even the shops and stores are the same.

A shopper can only select a limited number of routes to fulfill their shopping needs.

A Shopping Mall places strict guidelines on what businesses may operate in them and how they operate. They generally encourage the businesses and franchises with a success record in other malls. Innovation is not generally encouraged.

A Shopping Mall patron is clearly distinguished from a Shopping Mall store proprietor who is clearly distinguished from a Shopping Mall proprietor.

Patrons are not encouraged to set up their own shop in a Shopping Mall.

The proprietor has absolute power over the success or failure of a tenant in a Shopping Mall, regardless of its customer base. If a more favoured shop or store is to be set up, this can lead to the closure of a previously successful shop. A proprietor can impose a number of conditions not previously employed on a tenant with the effect of closure of that tenant.

The proprietor of a Shopping Mall has a number of favourite tentants who will be wooed and protected once they are established in a Shopping Mall. These are usually owned by big companies of a size at least comparable to that of the owner of the Shopping Mall.

Despite all the similarities described between the Shopping Mall and the Predominant programming environment, there are a few major differences.

Shopping Malls do not select the most successful tenants and setup their own business in direct competition to that tenant. It does install special access routes that shoppers can use to maximise shopper traffic to the proprietary store. It does not require shoppers to go outside the Mall to a back entrance to access a previously popular shop.

A Shopping Mall and the Predominant Programming Environment can do all the above because it attracts shoppers with money. It is aimed at a certain segment of the market. The biggest segment. That segment of the market never considers or is not concerned with any of the implications of the behaviour of the proprietor because it has no perceptable impact on their shopping needs.