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Sharing in the Presence of Computers and Corporations (macwright.com)
11 points by Tomte on Dec 7, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 1 comment

Some of it is just a turn, a lack of will & spirit, an exploitation, as Tom seems to say:

> That fewer startups are interested in contributing to open source in any significant way. Fewer still will open source major components of their product. And major companies with lots of existing contracts have started building their fortunes on open source in a way that feels - to me, on an emotional level - exploitative. Startups shouldn’t be their unpaid R&D department.

But also, particularly with code, we are a much higher tech civilization than we used to be. We have much more advanced tools & libraries to help us, but the expectations & demands of users are much higher, what we make tends to be much more complex. It's harder for open-source to feel relevant, to want to get going on an open source path when the effort & expectations are going to be so much higher.

I also think currently open source is out of sync with the demands of the time. Open source software- the application- is consigned to the margins when what folks expect from computing is connected, always-on, available computing. For open source to do what the commercial offerings do, we'd need to tell folks to set up SQL servers, hole punch their firewall & to set up dynamic DNS. Open source still thinks of itself as a competitor to win the desktop, but the desktop is irrelevant: computing has moved into the cloud. We haven't gotten significantly better, significantly more consistent at turning users into operators, into making operations better. With some rare exceptions like Yunohost[1], open source software remains stuck in a fairly legacy mode of computing, even though we have countless open source libraries for building cloudified computing.

Even the computer geeks have mostly stopped caring. They run out & buy $1000+ of wifi gear, rather than learn openwrt (which now with DAWN[2] multi-AP controller, i regard as viable). WSL means less and less geeks will dabble with actual Linux environments, since Linux tools just work with little adaption & effort. The systems knowledge to make computing happen has turned into a skill of navigating AWS consoles & Terraform scripts, rather than hugging servers. The real world of computing, of doing for ourselves effervesces away, up, into the cloud, and it's hard to see how the idea of open-source can remain relevant when computing itself is dematerializing around us.

I do think some general systems research & creative computing fabrics could start to tip the scales some. The long half-century of the application will, must, eventually meet some kind of reckoning, more general interconnected, intertwingularized, user-respecting forms of computing must start to emerge. I'm hoping open-source has a more viable role to play in that. And I think that eventually a resistance will form, will gel more; that works like Kubernetes are preconditions for personal users being able to build acceptably-modern computing capabilities for themselves & each other. Hope is far off, but I still, for sure, feel it.

[1] https://yunohost.org/

[2] https://github.com/berlin-open-wireless-lab/DAWN

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