Experimental ideas - Part 3: Benefits


Hello everyone,

It’s been a while, I hope we can revive our conversation.

I would like to continue by discussing the benefits (value) of open source.

I took the list in Tobie Langel’s talk at Fosdem (~22:00 minute) as a base, added some additional items, especially under “society” level.

As you can see, these benefits would be more applicable to more permissive licenses (MIT, BSD) compare to lesser ones and none to proprietary.

  • Individual level:

    • Exposure / better career opportunities: Quoting from @bureado; “exposure across markets and industries for your code or contributions” and higher chance of being recruited
    • Any other benefits?
  • Organization / project level:

    • Contributions from outside: Improved code / documentation / security
    • Community: Allows the organization to have a strong community around the product
    • Higher adoption rate: The product can grow in the market organically (requires less marketing?)
    • Access to talent pool: Higher reputation in dev community can make the recruitment easier
  • Society / community / across organizations level:

    • Influence direction: Allows other parties to influence / contribute to the project
    • No vendor lock-in (Freedom): Other parties have the chance to fork the project and continue. This maximizes the freedom and prevents monopolies in the market. Even if the vendor is out of business, project may live (less business risk).
    • Improved education / learning: Allows education systems to be much more integrated to business world / real life solutions.
    • Better best practices: Similarly, allows us to share / create best practices, so any developer can get to the same level.
    • Lesser lawsuits: Having lesser restrictions over the products / services should lead to lesser legal complications.
    • Prevents investment overlap / increased productivity (Reinventing the wheel): No other party has to spend time & money to recreate that software / knowledge. This leads to better usage of our overall resources (less investments in the same area), and it would increase the speed of progress.

What do you think about the list? Any items would you like to add, change or maybe remove?

Some additional questions:

  • Can we apply these benefits to other industries as well? e.g. manufacturing, architecture, medicine
  • Can we find some ways to measure these benefits (can we build a business case)?

For instance;

  1. How many organizations are there in the market that are keep repeating each other’s work (size of the overlapping investments)?
  2. And how much open source could’ve helped us to prevent this? What would happen if we could’ve increased the size of the open source spending / investments by x%?

Here are my final statements:

  • In overall, open source is way more valuable compare to proprietary license / approach, especially on “society” level
  • In an ideal world (that everybody knows / understands these benefits), open source would get more resources than proprietary (society ~ consumers wouldn’t invest in proprietary as much as today - I will open this one on the next part)
  • To achieve maximum productivity, we should not only focus to existing open source initiatives, but we should aim to make any/all type of knowledge open source
  • To get to this level, open source should become a financially attractive option for commercial organizations as well (either through market, or through other means like “subsidies” - planning to continue from here).

It would be great to get your input.

Thank you!


Thanks for a really interesting angle and input here @coni2k.

Before I try to expand the list to make OSS look as juicy as possible, I think almost as telling as the content of the talk is that the talk giver created a consultancy business helping businesses leverage these benefits.

From my experience this is neither readily available knowledge nor easy to parse. Today you’re probably going to need experts to formulate a strategy/tactic around this or brace yourself for learning the hard way. I will say a personal motivation for me to get involved in the meta discussions is to understand this area better myself.

It feels like an area where a lot of work can be done and probably already has been. Every bullet could likely be it’s own academic study, but could also do with it’s own 5 minute entry level video/post for the argument and where it’s applicable.

That’s a bit of a tall order, so perhaps they’re a good fit for a live document and further discussion similar to the compilation of business models over at https://sfosc.org/business-models/

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Hi Robin,

Thanks for your reply.

I created a separate google docs for the benefits part. Anyone, please feel free to contribute:

If necessary, we can also move it to Github.

Most important benefits fall under “Society” level. This means that no business can “directly” get these benefits, they would be too vague for individual organizations.

What I’m more interested in is to consult governments to leverage these benefits.

Although I don’t want to go too fast, maybe it’s better to give an idea what I think would be the most efficient way:

  1. Research: Create a “business case” by studying these benefits (what would we gain if we invest in open source?)
  2. Prototype: Create a prototype that distributes money to (open source) projects based on their usage / success (a ranking system)
  3. Open source tax: Push / convince governments to introduce “open source tax” that can be collected from software purchases. And distribute the collected money by the results of the ranking system.

Of course there are many details to be discussed for each item (why and how) but hopefully we will get there.

I believe if we are on the right track, we should be able to find some institutions that can help us with the funding, both for the “research” and the “prototype”. Do you think that would be possible?