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Converting no capital into code?

What happens to the model of converting capital into code with respect to open source software?  THere you have people converting free time into code, but with essentially no monetary investment.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Why do you think Open Source projects are almost always severely under documented? :)

People do the fun stuff in their free time, only. Money is a good incentive to get people to do boring stuff like writing manuals and reports and whatnot.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

It's call reciprocity.  When you write a tool like Bison++, and someone needs a bison++ consultant, you have instant credibility and can charge large fees.

You give something away in the hope of getting something back.  That something might be pride, respect, contract work, reputation, whatever.

The idea is to move from a scarcity model to an abudance model.  Or, to paraphrase a certain famous Carpenter "He that would keep his life shall lose, but he that gives his life away ..."


Matt H.
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Yes, that is correct - writing open source is the same as doctors writing for medical journals - it is a method of getting yourself known and growing your list of contacts.

Rhys Keepence
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Capital is still consumed. It's human capital instead of monetary. The trouble is that it's tough to invest in a diversified portfolio of projects...

Rob VH
Thursday, June 24, 2004

"Yes, that is correct - writing open source is the same as doctors writing for medical journals - it is a method of getting yourself known and growing your list of contacts."

Yep, that was one of the factors to getting my current position.

In the meantime, I still do support and customizations for OSS projects.  I doesn't pay fantastically, but it's a great supplement to my existing income.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

"The idea is to move from a scarcity model to an abudance model."

It seems to me that OSS just shifts the scarcity to different part of the food chain.  Plenty of software, but little clear documentation.  Yes, there are some projects that are very well documented, but they're few and far between.

I understand, I don't write documentation for my personal projects either.  No one is paying me to, and I can always look at the code if I forget how something works. But that doesn't work so well for average public consumption.

Steve Barbour
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Before pursuing this avenue, I recommend reading

Considering that even *I* knew who Dave Cinege was, it may not work as well as one would hope.

Of course, Dave refused to move, which is a huge sore spot...


Thursday, June 24, 2004

I guess what bugs me is how much lousy/absent documentation there is from "pay" projects that I have seen.  It doesn't make sense to me why people are paid to make software and not documentation, except that it's kinda like the old addage of 'coding oneself a career', in that if you know how it works and no one else does, you are difficult to fire.  Not if I was running things, you wouldn't be!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Time = capital.

Daniel Tio
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Doctors and lawyers would be laughing their heads off at the thought of giving away work product. Contracts are not free on the web. Medical advice isn't. Why should software be?

IBM wanting to sell hardware helped create SHARE in the 1950s to allow companies to share software. How come sharing didn't work longterm? Same realities are at work today.

Free software reminds me of free singing. A lot of noise about very little.

Dirk Harms-Merbitz
Thursday, June 24, 2004

There are *DOZENS* of privately owned/funded/run organizations that provide medical or legal assistance to low income/no income individuals.

And still there are lawyers and doctors who make gobs of money.

Someone needs to find an more accurate analogy.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

No, KC, you have it quite wrong. Lawyers and doctors are meticulous about expecting payment for their work.

The exceptions you refer to are interesting because they're exceptions. They even have a special term that let's us know the lawyers and doctors are being generous when they refrain from charging.

Lawyers and doctors, and engineer and accountants, journalists and pilots, all charge when they do work for well funded corporations.

It's only young programmers fresh out of university who think there's something fascinating about working for free.
Those who claim it gives them credibility are revealing something about their own lack of experience. Good programmers don't need to give work away to demonstrate their talent and capabilities.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Economically, that's a bit muddled ...

Capital and money aren't the same things.  Capital is what makes labor productive (using a backhoe instead of a shovel, for instance -- or a computer instead of an abacus).

Money can BUY capital ... but that's completely.

Open source development is the conversion of labor into capital.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

They are not the exception.  It is the epitome of Adam Smith's market theory.

Due to some portion of the potential market being priced out of the existing market, a new (or segmented, if you prefer) market appears for products of a lower price.

Does everyone own a Mercedes?  No, of course not because some consumers are priced out of the market.

Therefore, some will buy a Ford Escort because it is priced within their means.

Now, if you want to attack the economic basis of bartering (time for experience/prestigue) then you're on even shakier ground...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Open Source is the transformation of a rainforest into a dusty field.

During most of my twenty years as a programmer, programming was a wonderful field to work in, because most of the planet was dripping wet with jobs.  No matter what kind of programming you liked to do, there were jobs doing that in every major city, and quite a few other places too.  Compilers and other tools; libraries; operating systems; database servers; desktop end-user applications; and more.

Is it a coincidence that exactly as open source software came into mainstream use, the jobs started drying up in every area but perhaps custom back-end business processing and custom web applications and custom embedded control?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Sounds like there is an incentive to provide little or only very rudimentary documentation as well as make things hard to use if the only way to profit from it is to sell yourself as a consultant.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

"Open Source is the transformation of a rainforest into a dusty field."

Nonsense. Open Source is the transformation of vast fields of wheat into a whole lot of small fields of wheat covering an expanding area of land. (Interestingly enough, markets can grow without needing to shrink other markets - it's as if the earth is growing larger to allow more fields of wheat while you keep whining that there's too many people wanting to be highly paid wheat farmers instead of making yourself a bigger field.)

What's that, you say? You can't stand some competition? Um, oh dear.

Sheesh, what did you frigging expect from a free market? Did you seriously think that the free market is designed specifically to ensure your own personal enjoyment of life? Look, communism and total government control of the market is all well and good, but while you were enjoying your precious free market rainforest you should have looked around a bit and noticed that there was a growing number of developers wanting a share, and you should have expected that some would actually dare to offer their software cheaper than you could afford to sell it.

Either move to Russia, or quit whining and accept that even a close approximation of a truely free market can get pretty rough.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Open source is where the supermarkets and flour mills come along preaching that free food is good for mankind.

The farmers tell them to get nicked, but unemployed locals buy into the story and start working for free, quietly planting and harvesting crops on little bits of village land and even on farmers' land, when they're not looking.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

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