Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Web 2.0 vs open source?

The angry young men over at Go Flock Yourself flirt occasionally with posting serious, thoughtful critiques of Web 2.0 memes, although usually the red mist descends and the result is a series of entertaining insults. Droid resisted the urge long enough today to post Web2.0 is the anti-open source, which discusses the dichotomy of trying to build capitalist businesses using open source software distributed under the GPL by using big words like "proprietarization". In the comments, Ross Karchner links to a ZDNet story which provides some background and is based itself on an interview with Richard Stallman.

I don't pretend to know which Web 2.0 companies are abusing the GPL in practice, but I don't see any problem with small companies building "closed" software on top of the LAMP platform. If every software developer who builds on top of free software has to give up their source code, that discourages innovation by small companies because you severely limit your options to derive financial benefit from that code, given that larger competitors can out-execute your code. I guess that's Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman lead the open source movement and free software movement respectively, as they are distinctly different concepts.

Startup entrepreneurs are eternally grateful to the people who developed the free software which comprises the LAMP platform, as that platform is going to enable many new industries which they want to help build. LAMP is lighting the way forward for small innovators to use their innovations to bootstrap themselves not just to profitability, but to critical mass so that they can become the next GEMAYAs. I would hate to see that highly positive effect ruined by an attempt to bring down the Googles of this world with a strategy that also hurts the little guy.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Ross M Karchner said...

I'm not sure if I *agree* that the GPL should include obligations for web app creators.

It's interesting stuff to think about though.

4:52 pm, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Dave Rosen said...

If I'm in the country I'll be there for sure. I'd great to meet up with some local Web 2.0 folk.

6:21 pm, November 24, 2005  

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