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The Future of Open Source Sustainability, as Seen Elsewhere

The Future of Open Source Sustainability, as Seen Elsewhere

2018 brought us a rich conversation about open source sustainability, licensing, distributed funding models, infrastructure investments, money flows and relationships between providers plus a new take on the "freeloader" problem. Most of this conversation happened in English and over US-centric social media platforms while global contributions on GitHub continue to not only surpass US-based ones but grow faster, while every country in the Top 10 countries by growth of open source repos are developing markets.

In this session, we present different perspectives on this problem from open source leaders in developing markets and other underrepresented voices, leveraging interviews and discussions with different communities in 2019:

* What is the perception of foundations and codes of conduct outside of the US?
* Where do global leaders stand in the "open source business model" debate?
* Is "startup money" seen as a threat to open source sustainability when VCs can't reach you?
* Can we decouple sustainability of open source from the survival of the maintainer?

Additional resources: https://gist.github.com/bureado/5e2152ac6e6a8d920baeb5f2678b97d3

José Miguel Parrella

March 13, 2019

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  1. Jose Miguel Parrella https://jmp.soy | @bureado The Future of Open

    Source Sustainability (as seen elsewhere)
  2. Source: The State of the Octoverse

  3. Lost in translation • Open source sustainability • Open source

    foundations • Income (in)equality • Wealth (re)distribution • Project freeloaders • Open source business model
  4. 3.57/5.00 Q: I believe open source has an "income inequality"

    problem From author’s survey
  5. Meanwhile, on Twitter Source: Twitter poll by author

  6. Strong opinions beget strong opinions • Respondents that agreed open

    source has an income inequality problem… • …often think foundations play a critical role in the future of open source (82%) • …and they, in turn, often think competition makes open source better (79%) • …and those people are more likely to say Codes of Conduct play an important role in sustainability. From author’s survey
  7. Threats & non-threats Threats Non-threats Software patents (75%+) Freeloaders (<20%)

    Young people (<20%) Income inequality (~50%) Startup money (<40%) From author’s survey
  8. 3.52/5.00 Q: I believe "codes of conduct" play a critical

    role for "open source sustainability" From author’s survey
  9. Sustainability: what clicks/what doesn’t Top Bottom (btw. 1 and 3

    respondents) Distributed funding (>50%) New licenses Diversity & inclusion (>50%) Eliminate freeloaders Subscription systems (about a third) Eliminate BDFLs More foundations (about a third) Government step-in From author’s survey
  10. None
  11. Source: The State of the Octoverse Source: Stack Overflow Developer

  12. On post-modern licensing Left: author’s survey, Right: Devon Zuegel’s survey

    on Twitter
  13. Themes: Project survival • The ability to keep healthy projects,

    projects that are being taken care of • Making sure that there is a thriving community […] so that such software can be maintained and produced for years to come. • The set of rules/tasks deployed in a project to ensure its survivability in all the involved dimensions (i.e., code, community, legal, etc.) Anonymous respondent verbatims
  14. Themes: Maintainer survival • Being able to sustain an open

    source developer's life without hurting the commons pool. • the possibility to contribute to open source software development […] while my life expectatives (sic) are assured • Open source sustainability means having the maintainers capture a big enough portion of the generated value. Currently I think it's too often around 0%. Anonymous respondent verbatims
  15. Themes: Recognition/unsung heroes • Attract volunteer and/or paid-for work in

    critical open source components or projects that span multiple open source solutions which have a large user base • Giving more visibility on the real contributions of open source software or components when these are part of a larger software ecosystem • Making sure that communities have enough money to develop new features, maintain and legally protect open source software that is used by in critical infrastructure in both public and private organizations. Anonymous respondent verbatims
  16. Themes: Societal/Ethos • Collaborating and care about software FREEDOM and

    Openness • The capacity of humanity of carrying on with the free and open source practice based on the persistence of freedom ideals, the prevalence of openness ethos, and the existence of favorable social and comercial conditions. • Everyone helping each other (money, time, etc) so that the world can advance together • Meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs Anonymous respondent verbatims
  17. Key takeaways • Needs more research: software patents, role of

    government/regulators • Foundations perceived as important, but role and impact unclear • Diversity & inclusion expectations unmet, CoCs insufficient • A strong position on a core issue such as income inequality tends to dictate positions in topics such as role of foundations, competition • It does not seem possible to decouple survival of project from survival of the individual maintainer • Open source sustainability and associated problems aren't a zero- sum game Jose Miguel Parrella | https://jmp.soy | @bureado
  18. Recommendations • Make time to and pay close attention to

    definitions, don't assume people's background or where they stand on a problem based on their affiliations • Does your customer advisory board look like your customers? (roadmap discussions, release notes, documentation) • Bring more project functions into your diversity & inclusion efforts (speakers, ambassadors, l10n/i18n) • Can you as project leader describe to members what long-term survival looks like for your project? And can they? • Don’t hesitate to draw boundaries for problems you don’t believe in or where someone else is an expert Jose Miguel Parrella | https://jmp.soy | @bureado
  19. None