Friday, November 21, 2014

Is open source a bit con with the free as in freedom and not free as in beer?

At one stage I was all for open source projects and put in a lot of time. However I now think they're just sucking in good people and using the energy of others. The big projects gain at the expense of good people.

As a person making a living in IT, IT has been good to me. But in the end you have to make a living. When you participate with software and code in open source you're giving away your time and thus your income. Anyone can take your work and call it theirs. You have nothing at the end and only the projects you contribute end up with your energy. This is the same was when you work for a company. When you leave you have nothing and the company ends up with the momentum you build from your efforts.

One opportunity that represents real freedom to me is public domain material. The beauty of public domain material is anyone can use the material in their work and then that work becomes your intellectual property. Free for you to do whatever you like with the end result. You can make your end material public domain in the same way you received the material as public domain. To me that is the essence of how most people view open source material. If you wish you can make your material open source. You can also make your material copyright. You have true freedom to do what you want with your work.

My older open source dictionary work is used by Firefox, Google Chrome and almost every open source project that uses an open source Australian spellcheck dictionary. Countless companies including the largest companies in Australia use my work.  Neither project (or any of the companies) gave anything back to assist me. They just took for their own benefit and I received nothing in return. These projects just use people.

Don't fall for the same romanticised ideal that I did. My involvement in open source has cost me dearly in terms of revenue and future direction that will be hard to recover from. Public domain however gives me hope. I hope that by sharing this insight it may help others in the IT industry that I love.

My first material based on public domain material will soon be released. It will be interesting to see the result which I hope to share with others.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

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