Open source issues for 2007 start with the profit motive

In a world increasingly defined by an economics of abundance marketing, journalism, writing, video, and programming all must compete with other motivations, including those employed by the better angels of our nature.

One of the big issues here in 2007 will continue to be the divide over profit as prime motivation.

We are used to this in software. The very term open source is meant to differentiate those who care first about profit from the Free and Open Source (FOSS) crowd, like Richard Stallman, who have other motivations.

It was assumed that licensing was a border between the two camps. But one of the big trends for 2006 has been profit-seeking outfits, like Sun, using the FOSS-inspired GPL on powerful tools like Java.

This divide also exists on the Internet, although it's often hidden or ignored. Blogs can take the profit out of content. YouTube can take the profit out of video.

And Craigslist takes the profit ouf of advertising. To call the attitude "delightfully communist" misses the point. Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster have other motives, beyond profit, driving their work at Craigslist.

The economics of the Internet actually favor these motives.

We have seen over the years how open source and the Internet drive out costs, and it scares people. Programming costs are driven out, marketing costs are driven out, journalism costs are driven out.

I think what my friendly "trolls" here (and I use that term with the kindest of regard) most fear is that profit may be getting driven out, and the market might be driven out.

I believe that is overstating the case.

But in a world increasingly defined by an economics of abundance marketing, journalism, writing, video, and programming all must compete with other motivations, including those employed by the better angels of our nature.