Open Source: A Free For All 

January 11, 2013 

Next week I'm speaking at Refresh Baltimore on Thursday Jan. 17th about the concept of "free", as a backdrop to the more specific topic of "open source". This topic comes out of our past work to release our Content Management System software, BigTree, as open source software in early 2012.

It was a challenging and interesting journey to consider taking something we'd invested thousands of people hours into and to give that effort away for free.

My business sense fought against the notion until I began to rethink the concept of "free". Fastspot is hired for our creativity, expertise and approach, not for our software. The software is a great bonus, but it's not leading the charge nor did I want to become a company led by software. As technology advances and everything digital becomes smaller, faster, easier to use and cheaper - the days of enterprise software platforms and expensive proprietary systems are dying on the vine, and should be dead soon.

Today we live in a world where the tools we make in order to create more beautiful things are best given away in order to build community. Community is more valuable to the end result than hoarding the tools and only breaking them out for "our" projects. I don't want the things we've built and that we love to gather dust and eventually run the risk of becoming obsolete.

If you have created software, the only way to guarantee it will survive is to get lots of people using it. The best way to get lots of people using it is it make it free. The best way to make sure people use your free thing is to make sure you're giving away a really awesome free thing. We've now done that and 2013 is the year we make sure we announce this from the highest peaks, and lowest basements of our connected worlds.

While we are making sure every web developer out there takes a good close look at BigTree, we will be doing something else as a by-product. We will be promoting the city of Baltimore because that is where we are from. The success every business enjoys shines a little bit of brightness back on their home base of operations, because they grew their success in the soils of that city or town. I hope that Baltimore realizes that by promoting each other and celebrating our community and our efforts, we increase the visibility for ourselves and our city, which is a good thing for everyone.

The pool of work in the digital space is immense, there is plenty to go around. So why do we find it easier to pick and compete with each other in our small pool rather than admiring each of our unique strengths and characteristics and promoting each other to the world at large?

This too is something I hope to talk about at Refresh next week.

These issues can really pile up and make many stop in their tracks, throw up their hands and just toss in the towel and start using WordPress for everything. I'm working through these things, and I look forward to talking as candidly as I can about this topic with any of you I get to meet at Refresh. I hope you can make it and I look forward to a lively discussion after I've spilled my guts. Here's the info, and if you can't make it but you want to know more about our take on open source, feel free to ask right here!

http://refreshbmore.org/

Go Ravens.