Ruby on Rails Podcast #204: Money and open source

Sean and Kyle talk the economics of open source software.

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Sean DevineMaker@barelyknown
One episode - even a sort of long one! - isn't enough for this topic. But, I'm glad that we started the conversation. I'm anxious to hear listener points-of-view. We'll be sure to cover the most interesting follow up on the next episode. Topics that we didn't get to (at least not completely) that I'm interested in are: - Ruby Together: Funding open source infrastructure seems slightly different to me than open source software, and this is a mix of those two. Seems very surprising that it can be a non-profit - I'd like to learn more about that. - What if you like open source software but dislike capitalism (which is a pretty common sentiment!)? Does the fact that OSS is "weaponized" by technocapitalists mean that OSS is "bad"? I don't think so --- I think that it's just a case of strange bedfellows. - Why do so many companies open source huge software investments that they make? Is it just to outsource maintenance to volunteers? My take: maybe sometimes that's the motivation, but I think that it's more commonly a "perk" given to employee developers - something that has been informally collectively bargained for. - What does the massive success of open source software teach us about the world? What other parts of our society and economy could be transformed if a segment of the population banded together to invest in a shared/free infrastructure? Certainly education... What else? What did we miss? What did we get wrong? When will I stop shivering?
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@barelyknown I think a lot of companies open source their projects because it also helps with recruitment. A lot of developers love working on open source, "hey look, we open source" ... "oh I recognize that company from XYZ popular github repo, I wonder if they have openings" and of course it's also a nice way to give back (after building your entire business on open source 😎) I haven't listened to this episode yet. But will have more thoughts soon :)
Sean DevineMaker@barelyknown
@mscccc @barelyknown Yeah, when I said a "perk to employee developers" I meant current or future. It's something that helps attract and keep talent.
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@barelyknown Also, I don't think the decision to open source something is always so calculated. There have a been a couple times where I've (at a company), started up a new repository & realized we needed to upgrade our GitHub account to fit another repo and... well "hey maybe we should just open source this, ya sure" instead.
Sean DevineMaker@barelyknown
@mscccc @barelyknown Sure, I'm talking about the macro motivations - they certainly aren't universal or conscious. Though I think that the idea that that would be "OK" at lots of companies is good evidence of the culture that exists that permits employees to open source what they work on if it seems like something sharable. That's a perk that's part of the employer's "deal" with you.
Radoslav StankovPro@rstankov · Tech @ Product Hunt
Good episode. I enjoyed @barelyknown thought process on the matter. There is definitely a lot of truth in his opinion at macro level. On micro level, I think motivations are not so rational, especially on individual level. In the episode @barelyknown mentioned his background. Which clear up a lot of his previous opinions for me and I think I get his point better now.
Sean DevineMaker@barelyknown
@rstankov Thanks for that. And yes, I totally agree that motivations vary widely for both companies and programmers, but that doesn't mean that there isn't some rhyme and reason at the system level. I'm curious about how knowing a bit more about my background would make my opinions more understandable. Perhaps just because now they have more context...
Radoslav StankovPro@rstankov · Tech @ Product Hunt
@barelyknown @rstankov Yep, just a bit of context can some times give you more clarity :)
Kyle DaigleMaker@kdaigle · Developer, GitHub
This was a rather interesting discussion with @barelyknown. I didn't really go into this with strong feelings about money in open source but the social contract is real.