I just wrote this up at my ZDNet blog. I wrote about it in terms of people like Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman, but also companies like JBoss and Covalent. By contributing important concepts and code, by licensing it liberally, these people and companies became rock stars.
This is a huge change for the software industry, which is accustomed to valuing people by their net worth. It’s also a stark contrast to the 1990s, where marketing people and investment bankers were thought more valuable than the people doing the actual work.
But it’s also part of a huge societal shift in how we value people and institutions. Give first, then take — an Internet mantra I began reciting at conferences 20 years ago — is now seen as the road to influence. And this creates a virtuous circle, as billionaires and celebrities compete to see who can give the most to others, not make the most for themselves.
This is what Open Source Politics is all about. It’s not about making this change happen. It’s about observing this change and seeing where it is likely to take us. It’s not radicalism, or even idealism. It’s an evolving reality.
We’re already starting to see this reflected in the realm of politics. Markos Moulitsas
is a rock star, even though he declines the honor. He is not a pundit,
he is not a politician, he is a guy who runs a bunch of server farms
and worked like stink last night to keep them running while the
political world rushed to his rail.
The example he offers the rest of us is profound. The fact that the
older, proprietary world, and the older, proprietary political punditry
doesn’t get it is irrelevant. He’s a walking, talking reality. And
there are thousands more just like him, along with literally millions
The people who embrace this new notion of personal worth, who embrace
the idea of giving their best without expectation or demand, these
people will prosper in all the ways which count. That’s not idealism
any more — it’s reality.
This is possible because of the openness, transparency and connectivity
the Internet provides. Tyranny and violence can’t hide. Lies can’t
hide. Everyone is in a glass house, and for some this is quite scary.
But if you embrace these changes and carry on, giving before demanding
anything in return, you will get your reward, now. In ways you couldn’t
during previous eras.
It’s Open Source Politics in action.