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Post Modern Open Source

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Breakout Session: Post Modern Open Source Session lead Henrik Ingo

Problem statements


Observation 1: Ten years ago trendy developers would use Linux. Windows users were frowned upon, and Mac wasn't even considered. Today most developers use Mac, and Linux is unusual and Windows is still frowned upon. The dream was that everything would become open source, but these days people have stopped trying--they are happy with a Mac.

The environment has changes. Proprietary players (Mac) have responded by being more competitive--they are more friendly to open source developers. (Example of UTOPIA in Utah.) They use the tools the open source communities created. (OSX and BSD)

Mac's have a great form factor. It's a great experience from the hardware up. They make decisions for us, but we don't want to be bothered with these decisions.

Open source tooling on a Mac is great. "I can do more good for open source using great tools."

Was it the PC hardware vendors that failed Linux?

Chrome Pixel is a promising step.

Observation 2: Most Github projects don't have any license. Is that good or bad? Does a checkbox on the project mean the license is valid for every file?

Developers today are less interested in the FLOSS movement, and more interested in what they can do. Yet the discussion towards licenses is maturing too. -- But new developers don't seem to care.

Ten years ago, developers understood that you should at least try to look at the license before sharing software. People today don't seem to even try. Is it because these people have no formal training?

Is Github representative of the industry? They are all independent developers, because companies have lawyers.

Observation 3: A recent observation that IT is becoming a "blue collar" profession, where people can engage without any formal training. Like other professions (plumbing), there are a range of practicioners from those who understand best practices and legal requirements, and those who don't. But the professionals (formally trained or not) still understand the concerns and they push the profession forward with best practises.

Maybe many of these concerns are a question of training?

There are more open source projects than ever before (millions), so many will be of low quality / amature. (Is every fork a project? Even though many are copies?)

Observation 4: Attitudes toward open source influence attitudes toward business models. Changing business models is alway painful--people will be suspicious of motives.

Observation 5: If every organization is integrationg open source in their business model, it becomes a default position. Open source has significant competitive advantage. Is anyone evil anymore?

The important questions are not binary good / evil. Do you respect contributions? Do you disenfranchise customers? Do succeed at the things you want to succeed at? Are you being transparent with your community? Are you living up to the commitments you have made?

The software business is not fundamentally different from other businesses. Some businesses are nicer than others. Open source is not a determiner.

Not fulfilling expectations with your community will result in long term failure. (Open source eventually model)

Is paying money for early access moral? Yes. But too long of a lag will prevent people from contributing, which undermines the value. Transparence is the key.

Observation 6: Is the desktop relevant today? Linux won on the desktop by taking over the cloud and delivering it through a browser.

AGPL is not picking up. There are more freeloaders in the cloud.

Observation 7: The evolution of attitudes toward FLOSS is similar to the evolution of attitudes in the environmental movement. From a fringe group of committed people due to ethical positions, to a broader range with broader motivations.

What conclusions can we make?

  • Communities can't produce winning solutions, because they make compromises. But Enterprise Open Source might?
  • Post modernist approach to art is post-structuralist. Revaluating what makes art. In post modern open source, people deconstruct what open source means. A new generation with different values. That can be frustrating to the original founders. The classical musician always criticises the avant-guard.
  • If open source is a religion, it requires less sacrifice to adopt as it becomes mainstream. The adherents are less distinctive, less homogeneous, and more superficial. A developer who uses a Mac is like a Catholic who uses birth control.
  • Open is a buzz word but also a mind set. Open source was the empetous of the term, but it is getting applied in more places. Increases is transparency is a good thing (as opposed to evil) (but not universally good).
  • But the battle for openness is not yet won. Complacency can result in loosing freedoms in a changing world. Creative Commons is a great way to make open source accessible to the masses, but it results in many freedoms being reserved (half of CC licenses are not actually open source compatible).
  • Free software started because early developers didn't think they need licenses. They shared without thinking about it. Many on Github are the same. But many are doing it as a formal protest. It is the start of a movement. But the creative industry is getting more protective of their IP in order to make a living.

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