Tim O’Reilly gave this morning’s keynote address, “The Open Source Paradigm Shift”. The talk was reminiscent of last year’s Watching The Alpha Geeks keynote at ApacheCon, although now he is able to say the phrase “paradigm shift” with a straight face.
Largely the talk was trying to make the case that we shouldn’t try to think about Open Source software in the traditional commercial software business model. Instead, we should recognize that the software (to some extent) has become a commodity, just like hardware has become a commodity. The true value in Open Source is the businesses that grow up around it. For example, nobody pays for Sendmail and Apache, yet thousands of ISPs make money from providing web/email hosting services for their customers.
His charge to the audience was to embrace the fact that Open Source software has become a commodity, and to start to think of it (and all of the services that have grown up around it) as a platform. If we can develop services that support collaboration and end-user customization, and the data flows freely enough, we’ll somehow find a way to feed our families.