Monthly Archive for December, 2006

Open source: intro, jobs, and business models

There are a bunch of topics I want to cover relating to open source in general, open source jobs, and business models based on open source, but I don’t have time to write about all of them now so I’m writing down the topics for your benefit (so you know what sorts of posts are coming up) and mine (so I don’t forget what I was going to write about).

I believe open source software improves the world as a whole, which is why I’m talking about it here. I’ll be expanding on my reasons in a future post. If you’re not familiar with open source, see Wikipedia. If I find a more concise page (and I’m sure one exists), I’ll add it. If you know of one, please add it in a comment.

The term “open sources jobs” is generally used to refer to jobs where open source software is used, but not necessarily written. From what I’ve seen in my web browsings, there appear to be three main categories:

  • Consulting – providing solutions that use open source software to companies (ie. a cluster of Linux servers for computationally-intensive tasks)
  • Training – showing people how to use or write open source software
  • Programming – writing open source software

Many businesses have been built around open source software. Notable examples of such projects include MySQL, SpamAssassin, and IBM’s Eclipse. These businesses use several different models to arrive at profitability, which I’ll discuss in future posts.

Street Performer Protocol

Here’s an interesting idea for all those music performers, software designers, book writers, and pretty much anyone else who creates works that can be easily shared electronically. Create a sample of what you can do and then get people to donate to an escrow that will pay you when you complete your work. When your work is done, it gets released into the public domain and you get the donated money. If you don’t finish your work in the allotted time, then the people that donated get their money back.

Instead of having people pay by the book, song, or software package, authors get a lump sum and agree to release the work to the public domain. This lets those with limited financial resources benefit from creative works of others despite not being able to pay them back.

Of course, there are issues with the SPP. For example, it might be hard to get people to donate at first. I’d hope that as more people became comfortable with this way of doing things, that people would start donating more freely.

The original paper on SPP and Wikipedia provide more details.


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Many thanks to Mike Purvis for providing web space for this site.