Friday, May 27, 2005

Development as passion, not obligation

Quote: Open source as a business model is inherently flawed and cannot support the development of truly innovative software.

Larry McVoy went on to say "It costs a huge amount of money to develop a single innovative software product. You have to have a business model that will let you recoup those costs."

I think he's forgetting passion.

You can employ me, and I write what you want. And you can employ others to integrate what I wrote, and still others to test what I wrote and others integrated. And because you've now employed a small army, you need to charge a lot, which leads to outside sales people and whole slew of related expenses.

Or you can find someone who is really intrigued by a problem and wants to write something on his own time, and fiddle, and try different approaches, see what works well. Someone for whom solving the problem is a passion, not just a job.

As a bonus, consider: the product I write as an employee doesn't carry my name. But the work I do for passion, it is my visible resume. It creates my reputation in the community of my friends, peers, and now with ZoomInfo, prospective employers. Guess which one I truly care about.

In a proprietary world, it may well cost a huge amount of money to develop a single innovative software product. But in open source, I think it costs far less. Open source benefits from a saying that was common 15 years ago when I was coding full time: Any good developer throws out at least half a dozen innovations before lunch.