Open source development is great in theory…yes, I said it.
This big ole movement for open source development is great…yeah. But really what is this movement? I was exposed to the idea of open source development about 4 years ago. It was when I joined a start-up company and every dollar was important. We were distributing video messages via email and needed a cost effective solution to manage the email distribution. So PHPlist was used as an open source solution. It was available to download, tailor to our needs, and provided the framework for the core part of the business. As a part of the GPL license, we had to “give back” to the community to make this community based software solution a richer offering. What do I mean by giving back, well offer findings, new code, ideas for updates, etc. that would allow others to adapt and improve this software.
So…from this software, I was exposed to other pieces of open source, web-based platforms like Joomla, WordPress, Moodle, Drupal, PHPlist, and the list goes on. All available to download and install in our server based environments to use. Numerous projects, numerous solutions, free software, open source software…maybe?
So…how many of us that download this open source software give back to the community. How many of us are takers and not givers?
I hear all the time, large companies trying to find new ways to save dollars…tired of paying large dollars for word processing and other office-based solutions. Oh yeah, there is Open Office by Sun Microsystems. Free to download, free to install, free to use, open-source software? But is it open and are we giving back to keep the community alive?
So does open source mean community?
Many people are touting the Android mobile market because of the open-source offering. What they mean is they want the flexibility to alter the source code to fit their needs. Maybe people interpret open source software as the means to alter the source code to fit their needs. But I thought the idea was to alter the source code and share this with the community. Are people sharing in this movement to make the community better or is it just leverage free software…to hack Motorola products in order to avoid paying fees for access. It is happening on Apple products as well, accessing and altering the base code to fit our wants. But what is the point? Oh yeah, for personal gain.
OK…I am not getting on a soap box, I speak from experience. But how many of us are just downloading this open-source software and not adding the the community project?
So is this open source movement really an open source movement? Are we really educated about the open source movement, the benefits, the burden, and the commitment to further the movement. Well, education is key. The point of this little post, there are places out there talking about open source software, talking about the community. Interested in learning more? POSSCON 2011 is in Columbia, SC on March 23, 24, and 25 and you can register here: http://posscon.org/register/
If you want a discount code, read this blog post and request a discount code. Yes…I did not mean to try to sell you a conference…but to raise your awareness about my thoughts and offer a logical solution. I will be there learning more about this community of open source.
As an author of “open source” software myself, I can assure you that it is a one way road. 80% of people are takers of the remaining 20%, 10% offer input such as suggestions and bug reports, 9% are hard core givers who want to do anything from beta/alpha testing to contributing snippets of code along with suggestions, etc… And 1% are doing the majority of the creative and coding work.
Not unlike commercial software development though. Take everyone’s unfavorite, Microsoft. 80% of the world just buys and uses the software, 10% get involved in promoting it, joining forums and helping with beta testing and bug reports, and 1% of the population are developing it commercially, being paid for it, or are the people benefit monetarily.
My numbers are skewed I’m sure, but the thought isn’t… Do you know that most people don’t even take the time to write the author/developers of their favorite open source software with so much as a “thank you”?