Joseph Jacks lays down in Open Consensus the assertion that Open Source Software will consume the vast majority of current SaaS value over the next 20 years. In concrete terms, OSS Will Eat $385+ BILLION Worth Of SaaS Over ~20 Years. I happen to agree with him, but why? Why has Open Source become the unstoppable force that it is today? Why do folks feel empowered by open source?
As humans, we crave validation. Open source provides us access to satisfy that need in ways that proprietary software cannot. If we are software creators, the best we could hope for in the old proprietary model is a line in the credits. All of our dignity was handed off to our employers, or those licensing our software.
As humans, we crave validation. Open source provides us access to satisfy that need in ways that proprietary software cannot.
OSS allows us to publicly own every small win we’ve ever done. It engenders a sense of ownership. We are empowered and validated at multiple stages in the open source journey. As a creator, we get to associate our name with a thing. As a maintainer, we can get a huge dopamine hit associating our name with an open source project for even the smallest contribution. As a community member, our name can get included with a brand that is loved by many across the ecosystem.
When I first started NodeSource, I had an interesting challenge. We had some of the top open source engineers in the world on our team. (And still do.) An enviable position to be in. We were creating commercial open source software for the enterprise and chose to keep our commercial value-adds closed source. I needed a way to incentivize the team to invest in the products we were building.
The answer was hearty helpings of attribution. We wrote blog posts and articles explicitly calling out every contributor to something we built. I made sure we highlighted all the amazing work the team did contributing to Node.js. We gave back every opportunity we could. Attribution and recognition were the best tools to do this.
Open source will continue to win because open source is people. OSS connects to our basic humanity. Open source gives us a sense of ownership. An ownership we can take with us beyond our current job or even the next.
Open source is you.