Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Open Source sustainability is not about the individual

There was a lot of buzz a while back about Open Source sustainability. Small and large companies as well as individuals discovered it's near impossible to survive financially doing Open Source.

It occurred to me that this might be an emergent property of Open Source and a reason why many foundations (like Apache) as well as users intuitively look at the "community" first.

The community is like a swarm, a Redundant Array of Individual Contributors (RAIC) that carries on regardless if a particular individual drops out. So, a "good" Open Source project is one where the community achieved this chain reaction while the others are at a stage where individual contributors make or break the project.

This conclusion is quite ruthless about a specific company or individual though: the better your Open Source project is, the more precarious your position.

The role of BDFL (Benevolent dictator for life) might be the only one guaranteeing some stability for an individual, but this means the swarm can only sustain one queen (I mean, dictator). Conceptually this role might be required to provide some coherence to the swarm.

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