Jazz, Concerts, and Killing Butterflies

June 11, 2008 Jack Repenning

IBM is sponsoring a new community and open-source project, Jazz: a platform for collaborative work tools for software teams.  IBM Rational is also creating a product, "Rational Team Concert," built atop Jazz.

So far, so good. But the names puzzles me: what are they trying to say?

Jazz (the open-source platform) is really pretty much like Jazz (the music form): improvisational, eclectic, always surprising, always new, searching always for new suggestions of a tune that would someday be the only tune in the world and would raise men’s souls to joy, America’s great indigenous art-form.  I get that, and it works.

But Jazz musicians don’t do "concert."  They mostly "jam."  When they’re hungry, they "gig."  Some of the best have been invited to famous "concert" venues; some tried to "concert," with limited success, most would just shrug and "gig" or "jam" anyway. 

"Concert Jazz" is like collecting butterflies: you chase it, you catch it, you kill it, you subject it to unnatural chemicals, you spread it out into a position it would never assume in life, you pin it down, and you press it under glass.  When you’re done, you may have something beautiful, but it’s dead: it will never explode from a bush in a rainbow cloud, it will never drape the trees in royal robes.  All the things that made you first love it are gone.  What’s left is only suitable to be ground up and made into money.

I don’t think those were the associations IBM Marketing wanted me to have ….

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