Open source in a time of recession

Summary:We face what my late friend Russell Shaw called "a shrinking water hole." Not every company will survive the drought. But open source as a business model will survive, because it's an adaptation that is meant for days like these.

Recession sale, small, scaled from freefrombroke.com
No one questions the fact of recession any more, although we have yet to confirm a single quarter without growth, let alone two.

(Picture from Freefrombroke.com.)

But consolidation is on the way. IDC has renamed its LinuxWorld show in San Francisco next year Open Source World, a clear shot across the bow at O'Reilly's OSCON, which is moving to San Jose.

The two will now market heavily against one another, and it's possible one will die before summer. IDC has experience and financial heft, O'Reilly has street cred. Hard choices will be made.

Tech hates recessions, even though tech booms start at the bottom of them. The PC boom emerged from the bottom of a recession in the early 80s, and the Internet boom from another in the early 90s.

Just as open source itself emerged from the wreckage of the dot bomb during, what -- the early aughts?

Something new will emerge from this recession but open source enters it on a fairly mature level. The legal framework and values of it are established. There are serious open source players.

I have detected fear of the drop in many of Matt Asay's recent posts. And those of others. Recessions are frightening. That is their nature.

How will open source fare when budgets are slashed to the bone, and competition becomes a shark tank, with your employer just a small fish in the school?

Oh, and thanks to Katie Couric for her shout-out last night after the debate. Big employers are comforting to have at times like this.

My feeling is that open source, as a concept, will emerge from this recession dominant. My feeling is it will extend its reach beyond software, into many other areas, because open source is all about pooling resources.

We face what my late friend Russell Shaw called "a shrinking water hole." Not every company will survive the drought. But open source as a business model will survive, because it's an adaptation that is meant for days like these.

How do you think we got through the dot-bomb? All those nasty jibes about how we were kids coding in our parents' basements had a ring of truth. My own income fell to zero for two years.

I got through it thanks to this medium, thanks to the collaboration and cooperation that this medium engenders. (Also thanks to my saintly wife, whose career stayed on course throughout.)

Open source emerged in the same way, and it will get through this next crisis just fine.

Topics: Open Source

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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