Open Source is broken.
As the tech industry has exploded — fortunes have been made by scrappy upstarts who leverage open source technologies to quickly build MVP’s which grow to be giants. In just a few short years the open source movement has transitioned from a niche community to one that the global economy relies on. A community that started out as hackers in basements has now been pushed to the main stream — to put this into perspective almost every single person in the developed world has used software that is open source or has used services built upon open source foundations.
If the open source community were to be redesigned from scratch it would be very different than what it looks like today . The biggest problem is that these developers are not compensated even close to the economic value they generate. Good examples include the open source committers that have helped build Ruby On Rails, as the defacto framework of choice for Silicon Valley startups, its sound fundamentals allow entrepreneurs to focus on solving business problems which has generated billions of dollars of value.
This is not only about the hard working gals and guys of the open source ecosystem not being adequately compensated. The fundamental tenants of the information economy depend on these people and broken economic incentives result in things like the Heartbleed, an OpenSSL vulnerability which was maintained by 1 full time developer as well as a handful of volunteers. This vulnerability affected over 70% of the internet including major institutions such as hospitals, banks and is the reason why things like https://haveibeenpwned.com/ exist.
The tech community needs to create a new system that allocates the economic and social capital that accurately compensates the importance of the work that they do — they are some of the most important members of the economy. I’m not sure what this system will look like but the answer may involve the blockchain and something similar to the Patreon but its clear there needs to be something better.
The world’s information economy depends on it.