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The Yin and Yang of Open Source Commerce

Introduction

  • November 1, 2005
  • By John Terpstra

What is obvious to some is far from plainly perceived by others. Life is complex because people are complex, and while it may be demonstrated that within peer-groups there is greater commonality of thought than there is throughout society at large, even close peers will perceive things differently because of a large variety of cultural factors as well as personal experiences as we move through life.

Within the Open Source Software (OSS) community, opinions are most diverse. Some want OSS to gain market dominance, but there is also a very outspoken minority that objects to any interest in using OSS outside of their own reference group. Many factors cause OSS users, developers, and supporters to be seen as a group, and it is difficult to propose a more succinct term to accurately describe the reality of the faceless mass that is commonly called the OSS Community. The term faceless is appropriate because, as an entity, it has no truly representative spokesperson who can, with any degree of convincing argument, claim to have majority support from amongst all of its members.

In this series, we will consider key aspects that impact the future of OSS in the business and consumer markets. What is considered by radical elements of the OSS community as flamebait or trolling is seen by others as hurdles and stepping stones on the road forward.

In view of the history of OSS, it is most unlikely that development will cease at any time in the foreseeable future. That is not an issue. What is of concern is the commercial outlook for goods and services that are based on OSS. Put another way: will OSS re-shape the entire IT industry, or will it never be more than a passing fad for niche players?

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