Hanselminutes Podcast 28 - Open Source Options
My twenty-eighth Podcast is up. This episode is about the Open Source Community. This is a pretty open ended talk, as there really isn't an easy solution.
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Links from the Show
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Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
The 12th word (13 if you consider hyphenated words to be 2 words) in the body of the post should be Open, not Option. Could you do a post sometime on the procedure for submitting a patch so I don't have to post a comment like this? ;)
Seriously though, thanks for the walk-through post on using TortoiseSVN and Subversion to contribute to the open source community.
I'm lucky enough with the CSK (http://www.commercestarterkit.org) to have some great volunteers (like Chris Cyvas, Mark Schiavetta, and J Sawyer) - I hope they keep coming! Articles like yours will hopefully inspire them.
Chris recently posted a nice idea on his blog (DasBlog of course) about a "1% Pledge". It's a pretty cool idea...
-- You, and the people supporting licenses like MIT, use a definition of 'freedom' that maximizes choice for the largest number of people, optimizing across the *first* round of choices after you release the license. That trades-off more choices for more people about what to do with the licensed code today for a risk that subsequent changes may permit fewer choices for some people in future. Nothing wrong with that, and there are plenty of people out there who use a similar definition.
-- Stallman and the people advocating GPL use a definition of 'freedom' that maximizes choice for the largest number of people, optimizing across *all future* rounds. That trades-off a reduced immediate 'freedom' for some (the GPL restrictions you mention) for a guarantee of the same amount of 'freedom' for all people in all future rounds. Despite your personal FUD, there's nothing inherently wrong with that, either. And clearly, there are a lot of people who use a similar definition.
Despite what you may think, this doesn't mean that MIT is better than GPL -- or that GPL is better than MIT -- or that BSD is better than Linux -- or even that Betamax is better than VHS ;-). It is literally impossible to predict which strategy will result in greater total 'freedom' without making some pretty strong assumptions about (a) the relative size of the first v. subsequent-round audiences, (b) the proportion of each audience that would actually want to do something contrary to the license in question if given the opportunity, and (c) the current context and future direction of the particular OS application and its community.
In other words, both options maximize choice for an arbitrarily large group of people: they just each define the group differently. And as both economists and psychologists can tell you, when used in a predictive capacity, those two strategies are more a matter of individual taste than right v. wrong. Some people ride motorcycles off-road without helmets; others won't get out of bed unless the insurance policy is paid-up. Taste for risk varies, as does future-orientation.
With me, personally, the license is secondary to the community around the project. But all things being equal, I probably feel a little bit 'safer' contributing to an GPL project. The reason is, I know that the core team of committers isn't just going to take the code with my work in it, package it up in a box, and stop releasing future generations of it to the public, leaving me stranded. But generally, if I'm committing to a project it's because I like the community, and I rarely consider the differene between GPL and BSD in that context.
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But NOOO, you had to discuss such interesting topics that I cannot NOT listen. (yes, double negative, live with it).