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Wed, 12 Mar 2008:

Occasionally, I do wonder why I do what I do, especially with software. The answers I've got with might not make sense to everyone - actually, it no longer makes too much sense to *me* today. But one thing's remained the same - it wasn't the money then and it isn't money now.

Everyone admits that more money helps (talks, walks you home and even buys you dinner). But the question at hand was whether money, more accurately, the presence thereof, hurts open source projects. And Stormy Peters began with that question, into her LCA '08 keynote.

The internal motivations to write F/OSS usually are weakened when there's greenbacks flying. Not to mention money brings in the people who herd it, from the clan of MBA (not to be confused with N.W.A). The processes and rest of the beasts of communication, reports and roadmaps which follow aren't necessarily bad, but they aren't "fun". But even when hacking hasn't been instutionalized, money is a selective reward, which splits the community into those who are paid and the rest. Dunc-Tanc is a classic example of this divide in action. And I'd personally lost that rush the moment I start equating efforts to money - there's a stress level which you can't pay me to take up, but in which I used to live day in & day out.

Stormy Peters takes on the topic from the point of view of someone actively involved in funding open source projects & developers. Occasionally, I run into clearer insights than mine, but conclusions I gathered from the talk are something to a closer look at.

Once a f/oss developer, always a f/oss dev. Even when you've gotten off the rush for some project, pushing it along as a good engineer, the hacker in you doesn't sit around. So, even if you don't do the same for free, it's very likely you'll do something else for the same reasons you did it first - look at the ex-Eazel folks. Anyway, history might just rhyme or pun, or maybe people just go do the same again ( *cough* Gnome Online Desktop), but whatever they already did - is not lost.

Anyway, to the objective reader, I'd suggest that you ignore my blatant bias in the above post and go watch the video.

It's classic percolate-up economics, recognizing that money is like manure: It works best if you spread it around.

posted at: 21:54 | path: /conferences | permalink | Tags: , ,