There Is No Open Source Community
Subject:   Pound wise, penny foolish?
Date:   2006-01-13 16:48:38
From:   john.mark
Response to: Pound wise, penny foolish?

Thanks. Some good points here. Some responses:

- I say that the internet needs to expand, because I feel the only way to keep the acceleration going it to add more and more users. To be honest, I didn't think this through to its logical conclusion. I suppose it's entirely possible that if the number of people on the internet remains constant, there will still be a rising tide of knowledge and knowledgeable people creating software.

- there is no one single monolithic open source community. And yet, I've seen many articles portraying it as such. Not only that, but they portray it as an ideology-driven, David vs. Goliath thing. That view is so tired. There are many technology communities, many of which form around individual open source projects, with lots of overlap among them. Open source makes it easy for these communities to form and grow, but the communities form around technology that people like to use, not necessarily an ideology. That's not true for free software, but that's a different beast entirely. That community is all about ideology and while it is an important subset of open source users, the vast majority of those who use open source do so with no ideological notions whatsoever.

- I have to say that in my old age (haha), it's become clear to me that plenty of bad is possible with open source. I view open source as another ramification of globalization - you can't stop it, you know it's going to continue, but there is plenty of good and bad that comes about as a result. In the case of open source, it would be the exploitation of workers. After all, if people around the world can do your QA for you, why hire a team of people to do that? Yes, I understand the naivete of that argument, but I believe that open source can be exploitative in the wrong hands and that leveraging open source software does not make a company "good" or give them the moral high ground.

Full Threads Newest First

Showing messages 1 through 2 of 2.

  • Pound wise, penny foolish?
    2006-01-13 20:56:54  rancor [View]

    Some of your clarification is useful, but it does not excuse some of the broad-stroke misrepresentations made in the original article.

    there is no one single monolithic open source community. And yet, I've seen many articles portraying it as such.... [I am addressing the entire point not just this statement]

    Yes, FLOSS "communities" would probably be a better way to describe "what's out there". Clearly, there are other such, essentially meaningless terms we hear like "The African-American community", or "The Asian Community". I think it is safe to assume that most readers of your article are immune to these meaningless cliches. The universe of participants in the development, use, support and evangelism of FLOSS is extremely diverse. This said, it is hard to deny the persistent existence of discussion boards, mailing lists, irc channels, events, etc. There is something out there that is very community like, sure they may not be having bake sales every week, but there is something there. Your "tiredness" with this issue is insufficient to make it go away.

    plenty of bad is possible with open source

    This is where the division between the FL and OSS becomes the most pronounced. Because in the OSS part of this where the code 'sharing' relationship is not symmetric then 'exploitation' for financial gain without 'paying back' the contributors to the OSS contributors that made your financial success possible. In this sense OSS (without FL) does NOT have a higher 'moral' ground.

    This situation does not occur with the FL (Free/Libre) software base. After all with FL software anyone can have it for $FREE right? FL software is money symmetric since if there is a way to make money with the FL software then anyone can also make money the same way. In this way FL software does have a higher 'moral' ground with the 'built-in' possibility for exploitation.
    • Pound wise, penny foolish?
      2006-01-13 21:18:40  rancor [View]

      Grr... typo. Last sentence should read:

      In this way FL software does have a higher 'moral' ground without the 'built-in' possibility for exploitation.

      I suck.