When will enterprises contribute to open source?

Enterprises that act more like individuals and truly collaborate gain the greatest benefits from open source.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

The following is not a poll. It' s more in line of a joke, a conversation starter.

When will enterprises get serious about contributing to open source projects run by others?

  1. When hell freezes over.
  2. When you pry it from my cold dead hands.
  3. When Republican House members practice bipartisanship.
  4. When the Obama White House practices true bipartisanship.
  5. When Windows goes open source.

As Dan Woods wrote after chatting up our own Matt Asay and Joe Brockmeier, enterprises don't like contributing to projects run by other enterprises, even open source ones. Maybe it smells like communism.

This hurts both sides of the non-transaction. The "customer" misses out on many benefits of being in a community, the way Sean Avery missed out on his hockey career by being a jerk. The project also misses out on those contributions meaning it's often reinventing wheels its customers already invented.

But there's also something unpatriotic about it, which is a point I was trying to get at in my earlier post about Singapore. Enterprises have a lot of talent. They can drive projects forward, or decline to do so. Would you rather have our trade competitors drive projects forward?

Enterprises that act more like individuals and truly collaborate also gain the greatest benefits from open source.

IBM (home of the Think sign above) is a great example of this. Its people are active participants in dozens of projects, freely offering expertise, and the company continues to move forward as a result.

So be a patriot. Be like IBM. Or Google. Take a meeting and get the word out. Communicate. The two-way street takes you further.

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