We have gone through an era in which software and the Internet have devoured the world, and now we are all enjoying the convenience brought by software and the Internet. After returning for a few years, we can not imagine that express delivery is so convenient now, and takeaway is so convenient, everything is completely different from before. Even when we went out for tourism, a new model Airbnb or short-term rental appeared. In the old days, few people could imagine that there are so many people who rent out their free houses or even rooms for tourists. This was impossible to imagine before the prosperity of the Internet and software.
And a new trend is emerging, that is, open-source devours the world. The frequency and amount of open source use in software development are rapidly expanding. This has resulted in a significant increase in software development efficiency and quality. But it also greatly increases the cost and difficulty of software development management. When each project now contains ten or even dozens of open source components, and when there are hundreds of projects in a large company, each of them contains ten or even dozens of open source components. We cannot simply rely on the quality and capabilities of the development managers. How we face the various requirements of security and compliance are all practical problems facing modern software development.
Facts have proved that the masses are powerful. The whole process is like large crowdsourcing journalism, pushing for social change from the bottom up. Although at this stage symbolic significance is greater than actual change to reality, it shows a possibility — the extension of the open-source culture of engineers to mainstream culture.
What is the spirit of open source? This is a question of benevolent seeing benevolence and wise seeing wisdom. The most important points as far as I’m concerned are:
In addition to open-source software, what kind of field can the open-source spirit be applied to and what role?
As a company with only dozens of core employees, it has never been financed and was established for 10 years. The reason why GitHub was acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion is not only because of the development of open-source software, but also because it represents a new way of working for all human beings in the future. The future they want to create is a world where anyone can suggest improvements to almost any project, and all fixes can be discussed like Facebook posts.
Why it’s Happening Now
Why are these seemingly irrational economic actions dominating the open-source world? Why did this change first occur in the information industry?
I think first of all because the means of production are changed from matter (atoms) to information (bits). The cost of copying the information is zero, which means that the communism’s production materials are infinitely supplied in the legend, and the production results are completely surplus. The sharers take whatever they want, and the rental value will not dissipate. This production result is not only an unlimited supply and distribution to producers, but also an unlimited free supply to other members who have not participated in labor, such as arbitrary downloading, copying, and use.
Therefore, the means of production for open source production must be public assets, not scarce and limited private assets. The boundaries of public assets are also changing as “information” becomes more and more the means of production.
Google makes the world’s most valuable things free, and information becomes a public asset. Today Facebook is talking about privacy, but it is also talking about the boundaries of data ownership.
However, this change is not necessarily top-down, but more likely to be bottom-up. If you think that your work should be open-sourced, it becomes a public asset. Since it is free and open, more people will have the ability to recreate it on the basis of what you have created, thus forming a positive cycle.
Similarly, if I develop a new encrypted digital currency today, it is not impossible to choose to close the core encryption technology, but it will not be used by anyone. Because the open-source culture has been deeply rooted in the blood of this community, and has been verified by the positive cycle.
So the question is, how to make more people so “selfless” to create or participate in open source? The possibilities are nothing more than this:
Waiting for the whole society, or part of the area/crowd, to achieve communism. Rely on the contributions of a few who have no financial pressure and have climbed to the top of Maslow’s demand pyramid. Create other “business models” or “sources of income” to give open-source developers more incentives or basic economic security.
I think the third possibility is the most interesting and interesting.
Open source, free, does not mean that there must be no economic mechanism and no monetization incentives.
Now, the big companies recruiting code farmers in Silicon Valley basically have to look at the real data of GitHub, and those who have an influence on GitHub are getting easier and more opportunities in reality.
We live in a world of social media, and influence is everything. Although most open-source projects and contributors in the world still do not have any income, don’t forget that the information society means that we are paid to learn, we are paid to learn. Our whole life is the process of using the information to produce information, and contribution is the best way to learn. We are learning by contributing.
At the same time, better infrastructure stimulates more imagination. For example, the blockchain’s token economy is trying to monetize the subdivisions and make small contributions, although this path is long and long. In addition, with the increase of open source projects, how to attract attention and accurately match the project with contributors who may be interested is also an issue that has not been resolved by platforms such as GitHub.
How to lower the threshold so that more ordinary people who do not understand the code, or even English, and the Internet can access the open-source culture and contribute creativity may be the most important issue in the next 10 or 20 years.
The emerging productivity of computers and the Internet at that time also started with a small number of geeks and eventually changed the world. There is no answer to how the future of open source collaboration is shaped. But I guess it must be fun and fun. Make something fun, something small. This is something we can all do.
Previously published at https://medium.com/@creator300/why-we-need-open-source-spirit-4d4a28f206fe