Andrew Keen writes the following in a post titled: “Economy to Give Open-Source a Good Thumping”:
“So how will today’s brutal economic climate change the Web 2.0 “free” economy? It will result in the rise of online media businesses that reward their contributors with cash; it will mean the success of Knol over Wikipedia, Mahalo over Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), TheAtlantic.com over the HuffingtonPost.com, iTunes over MySpace, Hulu over YouTube Inc., Playboy.com over Voyeurweb.com, TechCrunch over the blogosphere, CNN’s professional journalism over CNN’s iReporter citizen-journalism… The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren’t going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some “back end” revenue. “Free” doesn’t fill anyone’s belly; it doesn’t warm anyone up.”
First, it seems that Andrew is using “open source” to mean any non-paid activity by a third-party that carries out work that otherwise would have to be done by the owner of the project/product/website. He isn’t speaking directly about open source software.
I’d love to know if Andrew thinks his comments are applicable to open source software. If I hazard a guess that he does, then I’d say he’s way off. Aside from a very select number of non-vendor controlled project, the majority (or all) of contributions and decisions are attributed to employees, not outsiders. The tale of people contributing (code, docs, etc) in their “spare time” for the greater good has long been proved an open source software myth.
Do you think that the very minor percentage of contributions from outside developers will dry up as a result of the tough economy?