Sunday, August 4, 2002

Beyond Open Source

Dave Winer argues that the Microsoft/Open Source dichotomy serves us poorly.

" I know, Eric Raymond told you that there were other ways to make money developing software. Unfortunately, those techniques don't work for end-user software, the easy to use stuff, for individual people. The only thing that works there is developers charging users for the product. "

Winer half-jokingly refers to Open Source as "slavery", but the real question is whether people who make software should be proprietors or service-workers. The free software economy dictates that you can charge for consulting but not for software; software professionals are supposed to earn their keep by providing installation, advice, and support. That doesn't work for end users, as Winer notes, but it's also bad for the profession: the skills of consulting are not the skills of a great software crafter.