Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Values of Openness

Sometimes I feel like the people get confused between the value of openness and the values of openness.

In this day of Venture Capitalists investing in Open Source "plays" (Draper Fisher Juvetson investing $2m in SugarCRM), there is perceived value in openness. John Roberts, the CEO of SugarCRM has a great quote: "We're going to destroy a $6 billion [CRM software] market and turn into a $1 billion market." Left unsaid is 'Us getting a slice of a $1 billion dollar market is a lot better than not getting anything in a $6 billion dollar market.'

SugarCRM recognizes the value of openness. The monetary value.

Now a little outfit called TigerCRM comes along and in the grand tradition of open source software, forks the SugarCRM code per the terms of the SugarCRM license. They take a copy of the code and run with it.

An engineer at SugarCRM got angry because their work was essentially copied and used.

Somewhere along the line, they didn't understand the values of openness.

To me, the values of openness are pretty straight forward:

  • Share. Because in Kindergarten they taught me I would have a lot more fun with my toys if I played with them with others. I think they were right.
  • Collaborate. Two heads are better than one. Very true in software development.
  • Focus. Do what you do. Don't worry about what others do.
If you are in Open Source for the customers, for the business model, or for the money, you're probably stuck on the value of openness.

Take a step back, breath, and decide if you also believe in the values of openness.

1 comment:

Matthew Broudy said...

Hahahahaha. It's to bad, that the value of the developing world culture is so focused on equating value with monetary values. I was looking at your website and your CiviCRM project looks like a really really great idea. I'm going to try to sell the idea to an NPO I'm working with. I've just started working with them and have taken on the project of fixing there website, and getting some colloborative project stuff running. I was wondering if you had any suggestions about other open source or free projects that would be useful for the development of, or running an NPO/NGO. My actual blog is