Is It Even Worth Working on FOSS Anymore?

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Blog response: Devs Use Closed Software — /dev/lawyer


Good stuff.

There would be no meaningful “software industry” to speak of if money and code weren’t changing hands, constantly, at commercial scale, for tools and components as well as finished products


The existence of open code does not mean there can’t be any other kind. Quite the opposite: it’s usually closed code that feeds open, by giving it something to clone. High functioning open development can lap proprietary in some aspects, like maintenance of very generic, broadly deployed systems. But the state of the art, as a rule, advances elsewhere. Those advances get dumped out of firms and labs onto foundations and repositories, when the benefits of sharing maintenance outweigh the competitive edge the software once afforded in secret.

We’re in this weird post open source world. Your recommendation in an article from some time to make code available and say “call me” in the license file was also very interesting. If someone cares, they’ll call.

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This is not correct comprehensive enough. The state never went away.

a few attributes of the Information Age strengthened the
private sector. Corporations in the information economy, in which information
is a central resource, turn out to be highly mobile and independent of any
specific location. The ability to convey information and knowledge easily
allowed multinational corporations to organize themselves across national
borders, thereby decreasing the dominance of the State in organizing
economic relations. Furthermore, the design of the technology — or code —
accorded private companies with regulatory power in shaping the information
environment. Code determines what actions are feasible and what options
become available, and may prove more effective than legal rules in directing
human behavior. Overall, the private sector in the digital environment
enjoyed more power in setting the agenda and shaping the priorities.
This picture of the decline of the State is, however, misleading. It
underestimates the power of the State as a significant social and political
institution and fails to acknowledge the force of law. Tracking the
involvement of the State in the digital environment reveals that the State
played a significant role in shaping the environment all along. As the
following discussion demonstrates, the State undertook a dynamic role, but its
actions, and inactions, were always substantial.

Birnhack, Michael D. and Elkin-Koren, Niva, The Invisible Handshake: The Reemergence of the State in the Digital Environment. Available at SSRN: The Invisible Handshake: The Reemergence of the State in the Digital Environment by Michael Birnhack, Niva Elkin-Koren :: SSRN or