Open source motherships
I’ve half given up on open source, mostly because, as a vague left winger the balance between what is collective action and volunteering has become much more of a form of explicitly unpaid labour. The balance, moral, economical leads to issues of both maintaining the positivity of sharing skills to make code better, but in taking potentially paid labour from others affects wages, and job opportunities. The maxim, if not you, then who – starts to feel cumbersome when viewed economically. Anyone whose wealthy enough can opted to volunteer for free, but with interns prevailing in the culture, what social function does this serve both outside and inside a project and the IT economy as a whole.
Broadly I’ve been looking at WordPress and Drupal, which for my sins I spent most of my time, and Moodle, where I am potentially heading towards. I am thinking of the best chronological analogy for the stages an open source project goes through – seven ages of man seems to circular, If – perhaps a tad too esoteric, but I am suggesting a concept where, past perhaps a kibbutz economy where there isn’t such innate differences between community members.
Differences between members has come from a recent feeling that the large open source projects I use both have a company ran by the core developer team / original founder. I wonder if there is, returning to chronology, an inevitability that for open source this main company is the driver and sustainer of the project. Whilst a “main” element within the topology exists, the code inevitable bas a different relationship to the often proposed model where anyone can change anything. You could perhaps argue that drupal and wordpress’ plugins ecosystem is closer to open source – allowing code to be built around the core, but the core remains part of a “mothership” like topology.
I don’t think this is the only valid economic model for open source, but it appears to be the main option at present. The core obviously has a vested interest in it’s own economic model – which becomes an imperial like position over the rest of the economy. Perhaps I almost need to rephrase the initial statement, I’m happy to write something and share it, which doesn’t alter or create any economies, but past that, I worry what the model does, or could do, and whether, without democracy over the direction, open source remains an ecosystem with tenants and land owners.