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There is No Open Source Community


In January, 2006, I published this article on O’Reilly’s site, which was recently shut down. I’ve always been proud of this essay, because I think I got a lot right.  I’m republishing it now in the hopes that it will continue to educate others – and perhaps  allow others to critically evaluate where I fell short in my arguments.  The central thesis is here:

The commoditization of software and a gradual, long-term reduction in price have played far more important roles than previously recognized. Business strategy designed to leverage open source should focus more on economies of scale (in terms of user and developer bases) and less on pleasing a mythical, monolithic community.

Basically, stop treating open source as a social movement, because it’s not. This false assumption has caused much harm to software developers and users alike (more on that in a follow-up article). However, while I’m busy patting myself on the back for writing about software commoditization, I missed something fairly big: the value of source code itself is essentially worthless. This may have actually been more important than the price of software.

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