The issue is not what’s better: CopyLEFT of CopyRIGHT –they both have their place, as do hybrid strategies like Ping.
It’s funny how in attempting to understand something entirely new, people view the world through the goggles of their past (what they know or what neat little piles of understanding that they can place the new concept into).
I have a saying, the Pendulum Swings Fastest in the Middle. I use it in connection with the concept that HYBRID open source/commercial strategies (neither CopyLEFT or CopyRIGHT) are like gene-splicing the best of both into one coherent strategy. I did that with Jabber, Inc. and I’m doing it again, albeit a bit more aggressively in Ping.
When I founded the commercial company Jabber, Inc. in 2000, there was a lot of concern and a lot of confusion around our business model. No-one quite understood that we were a commercial company, funding an open source project that built a product that competed with our own commercial Jabber server. They didn’t understand that we were serving two different markets, that every success of the open source project added a feather to the success cap of Jabber, Inc., and that every new Jabber, Inc. customer (Disney was the first) added to the pride of the Jabber community at large. The notion of ‘MUTUALISM’ didn’t exist – both parties benefit from each other.
I remember standing in front of my competitors at the early Pulver instant messaging shows and explaining EXACTLY what we were doing, just to see if anyone really understood it. Three years later, most of those companies no longer exist — clearly they didn’t.
Phillip Windley (Disclosure: He’s a Ping Advisor) recently wrote a piece on Ethics and Fiduciary Duties that generated quite a bit of fuss. In response to one of the posts, Phillip pointed out:
“…I love open source projects and have been a beneficiary of them since I started working on the Internet in the 80’s. I also believe that there is significant promise in open source business models. I applaud companies like jBOSS and Jabber for exploring business models that are trying to that show open source is a viable way of creating shareholder value. I do not believe, however, that “information wants to be free” or that open source is inherently good and other models inherently evil.”
Phillip. Thank You. You are now involved in a project which will attempt to push that boundary even further. We are at Ping exploring new territory when it comes to new business models. We take nothing for granted. We’re gene-splicing the best characteristics of what a commecial venture can offer an open source project, and what an open source project can offer a commercial venture. There is nothing that is inherently mutually exclusive about the goals of open source and the objectives of a for-profit venture (both give a little in the relationship – but both receive more in return), and I’d argue that with a bit of work, both can in fact achieve their goals in an accelerated fashion.
While I’m on the soap box — I believe there is also some mis-understanding now with respect to what Ping is doing. MY VISION, MY REASON FOR BEING INVOLVED IN THE IDENTITY SPACE AT ALL, WAS TO COUNTER WHAT I FELT WAS HAPPENING WITH RESPECT TO CORPORATE INTERESTS AND MY IDENTITY.
However, I’m pragmatic, and I’m patient, and I have absolutely no problem methodically working towards an end-goal which may involve hundreds of steps or even years to mature.
Bryan wrote something that I thought was really funny the other day in an email I thought might be appropriate to share. It was in response to some flack that we appear to be getting in aligning ourselves with Liberty. He joked that we should rewrite our license to read as follows:
“…SourceID hereby grants licensee permission to use licensed software for purposes of EVIL, exclusively. Any deployment of licensed software for purposes of GOOD are expressly prohibited. Exceptions to this prohibition will be granted in such cases of demonstrable EVIL ULTERIOR MOTIVE, which must be filed in advance and approved by SourceID prior to license grant.”
Here’s the bottom line: Myself, Bryan, Eric and everyone involved in Ping have a very deep-seated interest in seeing that the identity industry steers itself in a direction which ultimately empowers the individual. But, we’re also running a business, and have determined that the best way for us to achieve our goals, is to ensure that we’re long-term players in the conversation, and that will require that we ‘land’ this company in the here and now, in ways which we believe are critical to the development of the industry as a whole. We have a long-term view on the industry, and are in no particular rush. This could very well be a decade long-haul.