“Why Software Is Eating The World” was published by Marc Andreessen nearly a decade ago. In that time, Open Source has eaten not only all of software, but all of technology. It’s the single best way businesses have found to commoditize their compliments to protect the platforms they want to control.
Open Source Is Eating The World
While ceding control of every aspect of our lives to technology is a truly scary concept for many of us who have helped the industry grow and take over every aspect of our lives, I firmly believe the technological change that’s taking place is irreversible and now presents us with unique leverage. Those of us who helped build and create the vital infrastructure are in control of the engine that drive the technology universe.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Let’s use that power wisely.
Most of the open source authors and creators I know create open source software as an unrestricted release for concepts they believe in and seek to validate with their peers.
Ryan Dahl, the creator of Node.js, was frustrated with the performance of web application servers at the time. He knew there was a better way. In order to solve that problem, he chose to bring his work to the new social coding platform, GitHub, and to build consensus and validate his ideas. ryah followed the “Bazaar” approach from The Cathedral and the Bazaar.
Neither of these individuals wanted to change the world through what they were creating. They provided us new tools. Those new tools changed the way we did everything. Through those tools and the communities that developed around them, they fundamentally altered the course of technology.
Position of Privilege
Those of us who work in tech know that tech has been suffering from a lack of diversity. That lack of diversity perpetuates systemic bias because it’s largely created by individuals who have benefitted from that bias and that privilege.
I had the opportunity to get to know both Ryan Dahl and John Resig. They are both delightful individuals. They’ve created opportunities for millions of people across the world. They also both happen to be white dudes who were able to make the most of their privilege and dedicate the time necessary to build and manage successful open source projects.
Open Source is far from free. Time is money and open source takes all the time.
Many individuals who don’t have access to as much privilege as our esteemed creators cannot afford to spend their time on open source. To do so often means their employer is paying them for that time. This is OK. In fact, it should be expected. If you are attempting to increase diversity and not looking for ways to allocate funds or to have employers sponsor employee time to fully support the individuals who are investing their precious time and energy into Open Source, then you will consistently fail.
Since Open Source is taking over every aspect of the technology ecosystem, we need to find better ways to fund and support creators, maintainers and the care givers, the Huggers as Maggie Pint refers to them, that make that work possible. I don’t think the current crowdfunding strategies are a viable long-term solution. Especially if we want to empower individuals from under-represented groups.
In order to drive the change we need in Open Source, we need long-term sustainable funding strategies that support work that needs to be done. This will not be free. By doing this, we will all be freer for it. We will build better open source software. We will have better representation of diverse perspectives in open governance. We will have open standards that better represent us all.
Down the rabbit hole 🐇: Accountable Company — On Microsoft Acquiring GitHub