Over the past several years, and especially over the past couple of months, I've been trying to better understand this whole open source thing. I've been to conferences and even heard Kim Polese's pitch on why we need SpikeSource in Las Vegas not too long ago. I have several perspectives but the most dominant one is that of an ardent capitalist. Do i need to apologize? For the past 21 years I have lead or at least been present as scores of really smart people created some amazing products with real value and then (gasp) SELL those ideas to people (a.k.a. customers) who also recognized and appreciated the value. We called this "the software business."
OK, sure, the business models have all changed and continue to change but I never thought we'd all start doing this for free! Well, as much as the whole thing still annoys me because I am still in the camp that believes higher education researchers and Microsoft-haters started the whole thing out of spite. Of course, now I am a bit wiser and I am starting to see why this is all happening. I am on the executive committee of Oregon's Software Association (SAO) and we have been actively discussing how open source fits with our mission and affects our members for some time now - to no conclusion of course. Further, Oregon is quickly becoming Open Source Ground Zero ever since Linus T. moved to town (Beaverton) and park at our OSDL. Apparently even our state government is going to invest a few million dollars in some open source thing - for the jobs of course. Huh? Lastly, O'Reilly's OSCON is due here soon too.
So, what to do at our shop? At Attensa, we (for now) have no plans in this area but perhaps we should look more closely? Our value add is all about attentionstreams as a tool to mitigate information overload...not just selling an RSS proxy server. I think this "component" of what we are doing, as well as NewsGator for that matter, is essentially a commodity or will be soon. Hell, the RSS reader has already been commoditized for consumers. So, i keep asking myself, should Attensa just open source our proxy server and admin console? Let's be honest, syncing read status across multiple readers is hardly defensible long term. Plus, MSFT is doing most of the basics soon anyway with Vista/RSS/Outlook. We're focused on value-add and the business market segment (not consumers) at Attensa, so no matter what you will see some surprises from us over the next few quarters.
Open source. It's an idea worth exploring for Attensa...I think. Any thoughts? Write me, I have an "open" mind. ; )