Doing without

I'm reading papers right now, written by my students about their experiences attending open source talks at FSOSS.  Quite a few of them are thinking about the problem of the economics of open source, looking at business models and comparing them to closed source companies.  In the middle of this, Al shares a video on Twitter, and I'm forced to put the marking aside (you should watch it too), and reflect on what else open source does.  Open source allows one to do without.  That is, it enables what is otherwise not possible with what is at hand.  It makes available.  It is ready to be co-opted, ready to be appropriated, ready to become the ready-made.

There are good reasons to think about the economics of open source.  I'm lucky to have a job, and a job that allows me to work on open source.  But there are other types of questions that open source lets us ask, for example, how to do without being one of the most powerful.  We should ask all those questions.  I'm asking some of them even now.