In this diary, I sometimes write on extended health, and ideological nutrition. Amongst my key personal brand tags, I always list open source. If you and I have had a conversation about technology, chances are that I have tried to sway you on the benefits of the open source model, or libre software, or standards over proprietary solutions.
Open Source Software is a simple concept, often misunderstood, and often because of biases we have in our capitalist society. Open Source is a rather communist idea, in its most ideal form, but whatever bias you have about communism, please set it aside for this article. Open source requires an open mind. Open Source licensed software usually gives away the source code for users making beneficial changes to the software to suit their own needs, and demand that the code changes come back to the project for re-use. It has security benefits, in that more eyes see the code, check the code for issues, and report the issues, often with fixes in hand. It has equity benefits because it is most often offered for no monetary exchange, allowing any who are interested to partake in its use. It has utilitarian benefits because if you want a feature that is not present, you have the code to build upon or pay for changes to by a developer.
There are many benefits, and if you are interested, I’d love to explain the all. For now though, I wanted to share a chat that I had with a particularly entrepreneurial friend about the topic, part of a longitudinal conversation on open source, design, and potential projects. In the discussion, I was able to answer what I think are some basic concerns and misconceptions about Open Source, easily cleared with discussion, but a discussion does not always take place.
5:40pm My friend: what are your top three complaints about open source software?
5:41pm JL: bias against, forking, those who use the terms without the understanding.
5:52pm My Friend: Do you think open source software should be monetized?
5:55pm JL: It is. I have paid for Inkscape. with money, time, effort, and support. Other projects would die an immediate death with a pay wall. You ask the wrong questions: My top three benefits of open source software include that ‘payment is optional’.
6:00pm My Friend: I know people pay for open source software. Many projects are dual licensed. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the pros and cons of open source vs just paid vs hybrid.
6:00pm JL: It is contingent on the project. My selection of open source is ideological, not capitalist. open source and paid do not work. The selection for many of open source is because it is free. Take that one off your list. Hybrid is fine, and viable. I support Kaltura, which has a hybrid model.
6:02pm My Friend: Isn’t your selection of open source a means to an end? No matter what your ideology food shelter and clothing still cost money.
6:02pm JL: Free makes the most sense. Make money off of support, membership, donations, and education. I have a job. It does not affect my software choice. Most of my work in regards to open source is paid for by libraries, schools, and other educational orgs. or done as a volunteer. Probably 50% of my training is free. in my consulting work. The volunteer work often results in new leads. I pay back to Inkscape in advertising, education, and training in my networks. BTW, this is going to be a blog post.
6:21pm My Friend: Great. Let me know when it’s done I’ll be happy to promote it. I’m finally ready to start on my idea. The reason for my questions in case you were wondering. I want to pursue open as a way of life and business. Don’t want to rely on my job for income. My thesis is that you can create more value through open products.
6:24pm JL: Yes! My next tattoo will be the word open. We agree.
6:24pm My Friend: Capital value as well as social value.
6:28pm JL: There is much capital value in the work that I do regarding open source.
6:29pm My Friend: Alright. Well I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I think it’s time to evolve capitalism.
6:34pm JL: Agreed! LMK.