Earlier this month, Simon Phipps posted another great piece entitled Is the “Open Source Bubble” Over? on his Wild Webmink blog. Simon points us back to Eric Raymond’s seminal The Cathedral and The Bazaar and reminds us that “the model behind open source is clear; an open community gathered around a free software commons, with each participant ‘scratching their own itch’”.
Simon asserts that the core of the open source software movement has always been collaboration around a commons (the very essence of the commons sourcing itself) and claim the “anomalous decade” of the open source software “commercial bubble”
is just about over. The new projects on the block are once again collaborative, seeded by companies whose business does not depend on selling the software or its direct derivatives. They involve synchronizing fragments of the interests of many, diverse participants rather than having the whole of a single party’s interests at their core. Every participant comes to them paying their own way rather than expecting the project to pay them.
While Simon sees this trend as the bursting of the bubble, Matthew Aslett’s post on the 451 CAOS Theory blog sees it as The golden age of open source? Matthew’s post begins with a reference to Simon’s post (and Stephen O’Grady’s The State of Open Source: Startup, Growth, Maturity or Decline? post which Simon also discussed) and comes to the conclusion that we are witnessing ”the arrival of the fourth stage of commercial open source.”
While I would encourage you to read all of these posts, I would like to point out Matthew’s claim that “various complementary strategies” will “be the dominant revenue strategies of open source 4.0″. Furthermore, he states that
While these companies remain reliant on closed source software to generate revenue the fact that they do not attempt to generate revenue from open source software directly enables them to engage in collaborative development projects in which all participants are able to benefit mutually from their collective efforts.
Whether it is described a bursting bubble, or a new golden age, it is clear that we are entering into a new era of commons sourcing, “entersource”, and open source software and I am very excited about the important role that n2one inc.‘s subscription based legal information service [profiled in last week's He shoots, he scores! – open source, “entersource” & hockey post ] will play in this new “golden age”.