OK, time for a question. Let's take it as given that the economy is choppy. Translating this to Main St, unemployment is at a 5 year high, prices are up and credit is harder to find. Will this have a negative effect on the "free" economy that many open source projects rely on?
Here's Andrew Keen's take on how these rough times might affect Web 2.0 projects that rely on free workers:
So much for the good news. Hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of newly redundant Americans will have nothing to do all day except contribute to wikis or become citizen journalists or "work" on their Facebook or MySpace pages. In an America where one in 10 adults are out of work, will Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson's free economic model revolutionize the nature of work? Is $0.00 really the future of labor in an age of mass unemployment?
Here Keen is talking about Web 2.0. But what about software? Will tougher times mean that people who currently donate their skills as say coders expect some kind of return?
Also, what effect might this have on the wider market? Apple's App Store is crammed with free apps. Will this change as the economy continues to bite?
My take: Even in tough times it's good for the soul to give something back, so overall, while people might start to value their time more I don't think that there will be a mass exodus away from open source projects. And remember, if people in developer countries who are feeling the pinch do decide they want a return on their time investment, this economy is undermined by developing nations who would do the same job for less.