Thursday, March 2, 2006

Tell the truth all the time

Kieran Lal from CivicSpace forwarded a great article, "What Corporate Projects Should Learn from Open Source"

The first principal is "Tell the truth all the time."

I think this is particularly critical among the businesses that make up
an ecosystem around open source. Our clients will get better, faster,
cheaper "stuff" sometimes. They will also sometimes get slower, more
expensive, and better "stuff." It is important that clients get both
messages so that they can choose how to generate the best long term
return on investment.

The critical piece of an open source ecosystem is building up the code
base into something better and more effective for everyone, not just
freeloading off the basic architectural work done by others. Clearly
most clients are not going to invest in some of the core work on their
own without a clear explanation of the costs and benefits, and a clear
case why investing in the core, in doing it 'right', will benefit them
over the long run. And much of the time, investing in the core might
not make financial sense.

I think groups like Ironweed Films and
Goodstorm are perfect examples of customers
that "get it." They understand that by investing in core technology,
they both help themselves in the short term, and catalyze innovations
that will help them in the long term.

The question that I would pose to people making money off open source
ecosystems like Drupal/ CivicSpace/ Joomla/ CiviCRM is how do you
explain the costs and benefits in a way that the long-term return on
investment of investing in core components of open source software is
clear to the customer?

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