There’s been a debate going on among digerati this week on the perennial question of “open or proprietary?” Mathew Ingram’s thoughtful piece links to some of the high and low-lights. His own take: if the walled garden is pleasant, most users won’t want to leave. He’s absolutely right. Also, as Esther Dyson points out, the Internet, and technology in general, tends to cycle back and forth between open-ness and proprietary-ness. As a guy who used to have Unix on his business card, I can attest to those cycles, and to companies that switch horses as needed (Sun Microsystems with its own version of Unix; Microsoft using Internet networking to beat Novell). Open-ness can foster innovation by many companies, but standards bodies usually implement too slowly. Apple can deliver a great user experience. Etc. etc. There’s wisdom in both sides of the argument – but the takeaway is that it’s cyclical. Disruptive companies start a trend; smart companies ride it.