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Economic Crisis Will Eliminate Open Source

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the why-so-gloomy dept.

The Almighty Buck 753

An anonymous reader writes "The economic crisis will ultimately eliminate open source projects and the 'Web 2.0 free economy,' says Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur. Along with the economic downturn and record job loss, he says, we will see the elimination of projects including Wikipedia, CNN's iReport, and much of the blogosphere. Instead of users offering their services 'for free,' he says, we're about to see a 'sharp cultural shift in our attitude toward the economic value of our labor' and a rise of online media businesses that reward their contributors with cash. Companies that will survive, he says, include Hulu, iTunes, and Mahalo. 'The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren't going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some "back end" revenue,' says Keen."

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First Post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468427)

First Post!

First Nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468581)

A little monkey is up in a tree and he feels safe there. So safe that when a big ferocious tiger comes along, he grabs a coconut and hurls it down, hitting the tiger in the face. The tiger says "if you do that again, you'll be very very sorry." The monkey laughs since he feels so safe in his tree and throws another coconut, hitting the tiger again. The tiger gets so pisses off that he grabs the tree and shakes it, making the monkey fall down to the ground. The tiger pounces on the monkey, holds him down, and says "ok, I am feeling nice today so I will give you a choice. I can bite your head off or I can bite your tail off. Make up your mind." The monkey does not hesitate and says "bite off my head." The tiger cannot believe this and says "why? If I bite off your tail at least you will live." The monkey says "yes, but if you bite off my tail, then I would be a NIGGER!"

Yeah right. (5, Insightful)

Emb3rz (1210286) | about 6 years ago | (#25468433)

Advertising + Blogs = continuance of our current model.

Not Quite. (2, Interesting)

GNUChop (1310629) | about 6 years ago | (#25468505)

Blogs shift power from broadcasters to individuals. Pull media empowers us all.

Re:Yeah right. (5, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | about 6 years ago | (#25468831)

Advertising + Blogs = continuance of our current model.

He just doesn't get that some people do things not for the money.

I think we should be able to (5, Insightful)

wud (709053) | about 6 years ago | (#25468447)

Can someone please mod this story as flame bait?

Re: I think we should be able to (1)

e2d2 (115622) | about 6 years ago | (#25468563)

I agree. I just read some of this tripe and I'd like to punch this guy right in his arrogant face.

Re: I think we should be able to (5, Funny)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | about 6 years ago | (#25468593)

I agree. I just read some of this tripe and I'd like to punch this guy right in his arrogant face.

What, for free? That's valuable labor!

Re: I think we should be able to (5, Funny)

megamerican (1073936) | about 6 years ago | (#25468695)

What, for free? That's valuable labor!

I'll count it as 1 hour of community service off of my sentence!

Re: I think we should be able to (5, Insightful)

JustKidding (591117) | about 6 years ago | (#25468679)

Indeed, why are some people just completely unable to comprehend that not *everyone* is a greedy bastard?

Some people do things, like programming, you know, for fun! Contributing to OSS is not about "back-end revenue" for most people, it's about contributing to a community, about pride, and about intellectual challenges.

I feel sort of sad for him that *his* whole life seems to revolve around money.

Re: I think we should be able to (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 6 years ago | (#25468777)

And why can't people comprehend that folks write this stuff to sell books and make money? And why can't folks comprehend that Slashdot posts it in order to get page views and make money?

Re: I think we should be able to (1)

e2d2 (115622) | about 6 years ago | (#25468783)

The irony is he writes tripe about how useless the internet is because everyone has a voice (blogs, youtube, etc) and it waters down the content. Then he posts these rants on his blog!

Pot, kettle calling, will you accept the charges?

Re: I think we should be able to (3, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 years ago | (#25468743)

No, he makes a valid point. In a recession, there are fewer jobs. The people who don't have jobs have much better things to do than differentiate themselves from their competition by contributing to a public project, and companies have so much spare money that they don't need to reduce costs with open source joint ventures.

Re: I think we should be able to (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25468801)

Are you the guy who modded my comment in the wikipedia story "flamebait"? Have you no sense of humor, or at least no sense of irony?

Yesterday was a story saying the economic downturn was a boon to open source, now another, equally misinformed dumbass says it will kill open source.

I think these guys are hilaruious, myself.

The reality is the economic downturn (call a spade a spade, we're going to have a depression) will probably do neither. Of the two stories, however, this one is the dumbest. But not by much.

Yesterday's mcgrew journal, Open Office Blues [] , about a non-nerd and open source, illistrates perfectly why open source software has not taken the world by storm despite its superiority.

Absolutely Stupid. (1)

twitter (104583) | about 6 years ago | (#25468457)

Like people are going to spend money they don't have on non free software instead of doing what they can in their spare time. M$ and friends have yet to recover from the Dot Com Bomb but companies like Google have grown by rewarding individuals for their work. Free software always provides a reward for work. Google, through advertising, provides a reward for your blog.

Economic Crisis Will have no effect Open Source (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | about 6 years ago | (#25468779)

^^ The title of the next article..

Just like... (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 years ago | (#25468459)

The end of the dot-com bubble killed linux, stifled production of php sites, and made people stop sending non-commercial email. Those things all went away, right?

Re:Just like... (1)

tungstencoil (1016227) | about 6 years ago | (#25468521)

Hear hear! Right on. You just forgot to mention that the sky is falling, and the world will end Tuesday.

Re:Just like... (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 6 years ago | (#25468599)

BARMAN: Are you serious sir? I mean, do you really think the world's going to end this afternoon?
FORD PREFECT: Yes. In just over one minute-and-thirty-five seconds.
BARMAN: Well isn't there anything we can do?
FORD PREFECT: No, nothing.
BARMAN: Well I always thought we were meant to lie down and put a paper bag over our head or something.
FORD PREFECT: If you'd like, yes.
BARMAN: Well, will that help?
FORD PREFECT: No. Excuse me I've got to find my friend.
BARMAN: Very well then. Last orders please!

Re:Just like... (4, Funny)

I'm not really here (1304615) | about 6 years ago | (#25468737)

ARTHUR DENT: I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Re:Just like... (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#25468535)

Just like.... The end of the dot-com bubble killed linux, stifled production of php sites, and made people stop sending non-commercial email. Those things all went away, right?

The latest U.S. News & World Report appears to claim this recession is deeper than the post-dot-com recession. If you want page numbers, I can dig them up when I get home.

Who gives a shit? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468703)

If our economic output went flat tomorrow, Linux would still do just as good as it always has. In fact, it may do even better, as the people who are currently paying $50/year/machine for Windows licenses suddenly can't afford to pay squat.

You would have to be a complete troll to believe that the catalyst behind open source is somehow intrinsically economical and not some fucked up blend of economical and fundamentalist. The majority of the "unknown" hackers are simply students, hobbyists and loyalists who want to put their name on something and to use their machines how they want to, and not how some corporation tells them they can. No economic crisis will ever be deep enough to make some people seek intelligence, no economic crisis will stop thinkers from thinking, no economic crisis will stop dreamers from dreaming.

So yeah, Open Source may get hit. But while other businesses are closing up shop, there will always be someone, somewhere, too obsessive, too creative and too egotistical to stop coding for his/her pet project. And that will keep Open Source alive through any economic crisis.

Re:Just like... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 6 years ago | (#25468721)

Doesn't make it any different.

The reality is, people need to do IT-type things.

They're not going to be able to AFFORD the old style stuff because of that deepness.

So either they will do without or subsidize and use the FOSS stuff instead. If it's about money, the proprietary stuff loses- what they're spouting off is opposite thinking.

Re:Just like... (3, Funny)

tixxit (1107127) | about 6 years ago | (#25468669)

It does make perfect sense, because the only reason some one would ever possibly contribute to open source, spending countless tireless hours writing code in their free time, is some "speculative hope that they might get some 'back end' revenue."

Re:Just like... (5, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 6 years ago | (#25468675)

You should have SEEN what Linux and PHP were planning for the next release, right before the bubble burst. Let me just say two words: Flying Cars.

Shakeout more likely (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468469)

All you may see is a shakeout of commercial Web 2.0 ventures that were going nowhere and were only being made a fuss of "because it's web 2.0". The same hype that drove the original dotcom bubble. A shakeout of dodgy commercial ventures, yes, Opensource on the other hand is likely to get stronger in this climate.

Re:Shakeout more likely (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 years ago | (#25468763)

It wouldn't surprise me if we some contraction in some marginal projects, but come on, if this is the Big One, then closed source vendors are going to see the same pain, and maybe a lot more of it. Web 2.0 was nothing but fluff anyways, and is precisely the kind of gas that seems to exist in bubbles. But anyone who says major projects like Apache, Samba, the Linux kernel, the GNU utilities, Firefox, OpenOffice.Org and so forth is either a mental retard or is trying to push some proprietary solutions.

This is just wrong (4, Insightful)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | about 6 years ago | (#25468473)

hungry and cold unemployed masses

They aren't the people contributing. The guy is an 1d.10T

Re:This is just wrong (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 6 years ago | (#25468787)

They aren't the people contributing. The guy is an 1d.10T

Cable tv, internet, and cellphone service are some of the last things that people stop paying for when they're broke.

It is a psychological thing. They don't really feel poor until they have to cut themselves off from the media intensive aspects of society.

Donations (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | about 6 years ago | (#25468475)

A lot of projects accept them..

Re:Donations (2, Insightful)

notamisfit (995619) | about 6 years ago | (#25468589)

A lot of users don't give them.

He's just try (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468479)

Say something ridiculous, market your own book.

Some people really don't understand the purpose of open source. (Hint: It's not to earn 'back end' revenue.)

Money? (4, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | about 6 years ago | (#25468481)

Since when is user delivered content driven by hopes of profit? These people are driven by wanting their voices heard and to some extent wanting to be known. If these sites fail, it will be because the site itself isn't profitable, not because their users, who they could care less about, aren't making money off it.

Apropos Fortune today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468483)

Current Slashdot fortune: "try again"

Odd ... (4, Funny)

zehaeva (1136559) | about 6 years ago | (#25468493)

Funny, I just passed by some article someplace saying the exact opposite. mmm where was that?

Re:Odd ... (5, Funny)

rugatero (1292060) | about 6 years ago | (#25468629)

It seems we're getting dupes from a parallel SlashDot.

more idle hands = MORE open sorze not less (1)

loVolt (664437) | about 6 years ago | (#25468499)

I'm guessing the published ..blablablabl horsecrap has never coded ..amature

Yeah right.... (1)

TheNecromancer (179644) | about 6 years ago | (#25468501)

Just like we saw all those failures from the Y2K problem, right?

Open Source has its' place in the industry today, and I don't think that the current state of the economy will cause that to go away. There may be a downturn, but the industry as a WHOLE will experience that, until the economy rebounds.

*laughs* (5, Insightful)

RaigetheFury (1000827) | about 6 years ago | (#25468503)

This guy is under the assumption everyone who works on open source technology is after financial gain. Very short sighted

Re:*laughs* (1)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#25468559)

And people wonder why bloggers have been given a bad rap? sigh

Re:*laughs* (1)

rolfc (842110) | about 6 years ago | (#25468595)

People tend to judge people by their own standards, so if he think everyone do everything for an economic award, it is because that is how he thinks.

Re:*laughs* (3, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | about 6 years ago | (#25468643)

I read it more along the lines of if a person is starving (for example) or facing the possibility of starvation then anything they do will be based on trying to get food. So a person who spends time working on an OSS project might now think I need to do things that will bring me short term value (ie money) so I don't starve and might either work of other things or start demanding money (or food) for their time and effort.

When a person's basic needs aren't being meet nothing else really matters.

Re:*laughs* (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468825)

No, what he's getting at is that people are able to offer free services because they don't have to worry about their personal finances (read their jobs are secure). If you have to spend more time making real money, you won't have as much time to devote to your hobby.

Economic forecasters are like Astrologers... (3, Funny)

PinkyDead (862370) | about 6 years ago | (#25468509)


Same wrong assumptions, different century (5, Insightful)

beldon (79695) | about 6 years ago | (#25468523)

Perhaps it could be said that all the money in FOSS development made developers used to a higher standard of living, but that assumes that getting paid necessarily negates non-monetary rewards. That's a flimsy argument and doesn't bear very close scrutiny. It also assumes traditional scarcity rules have taken over the software industry. If anything, artificial scarcity is even harder to maintain during harder financial times.

This is nothing but a re-hash of Bill Gates' screed against the Homebrew Computer Club about how good software will never be created without paid programmers. It was wrong in then, and it's still wrong.

On the contrary... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 6 years ago | (#25468529)

Smart businesses (and government agencies - I know, *that* is an oxymoron) will turn TO Open Source as a way to reduce costs. Consequently, people with Open Source experience will become MORE valuable. I'm living proof as my employer just agreed to make the shift away from MicroSoft in favor of FOSS alternatives.

Re:On the contrary... (4, Informative)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 6 years ago | (#25468647)

Most large businesses are just as dumb as government organisations - you just don't get to hear about most of it.

BS (1)

afidel (530433) | about 6 years ago | (#25468531)

It's like internet porn, some shops will have enough quality to attract direct paying customers who have more time than money, the rest will give their product away for free and pay for it with advertising. The barriers to entry are low enough that every joe schmo out of work can try their hand at the game so a bad economy will actually lead to MORE people throwing "free" content out there with the hope of hitting it big.

Suerly the opposite is true (5, Insightful)

uchian (454825) | about 6 years ago | (#25468537)

Surely with more people sitting at home, unemployed, with nothing to do other than look for a job, and desperate to make their cv stand out more than everyone else in there situation, the amount of speculative work produced may in fact rise?

Oh boy (1)

toby (759) | about 6 years ago | (#25468543)

What a load of bollocks.

Holy hell (3, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 6 years ago | (#25468545)

Does this guy really thinks everyone has a website/blog/whatever only to make money?

My personal website doesn't have any banner, I have to pay for hosting from my own pockets (and I haven't updated the damn thing in months either).

I think this is only a counter-strike against this [] .

yeah right (5, Insightful)

ignatus (669972) | about 6 years ago | (#25468547)

"The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren't going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some 'back end' revenue," says Keen."

No, the hungry and cold unemployed IT guys will invest their time into open source projects, because it 's a good way to keep their curriculum in shape. And the hungry and cold unemployed will keep using linkedin and facebook to extend their network inorde to find a job. And ofcourse, businesses in difficulties will stop throwing money away for overrated software when they can get a free and open equivalent.

I think a crisis will definately have a positive impact on open source and web 2.0

Just plain wrong (1)

bloodredsun (826017) | about 6 years ago | (#25468553)

He completely discounts those who do it for the love and there are too many developers out there whose idea of kicking back is to fire up a laptop and get stuck in to a project that interests them. Yes people should be more aware of the cost of their labour and not be taken for a ride as so many seem to, but to say that open source is simple going to curl up and die is just plain wrong.

Absolutely Right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468555)

Slashdot needs to pay me for this post! That will be $500 please.

I predict the reverse (4, Interesting)

pfbram (1070364) | about 6 years ago | (#25468561)

On the contrary, out-of-work software engineers will have some spare time on their hands. CSci grads facing a tough job market will be interested in building a portfolio for their first job interviews. What better way than to start or participate in an open source effort? It's a neighborly thing to do. When times are tough, generosity is on the rise -- rather than decline. We've helped our neighbors with various things and vice-versa.

Re:I predict the reverse (1)

pfbram (1070364) | about 6 years ago | (#25468649)

Let me add -- I think it was tough times that helped instantiate the free/open source movement in the first place. The off-shoring of good engineering/IT jobs abroad really began in earnest in the 80's, the dotcom bust of the 90's, etc. People's real earnings began to decline, price of housing shot up through the roof. Why pay $150-500 for a crippled operating system or bloated word processor if a free one became available? I predict tough times to spark a huge interest in gnu/linux. If people have to chose between upgrading their computer to Vista or making the next car payment, the choice is clear.

Pure speculation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468569)

No data to back up his points. No historical parallels to compare previous economic down-turns to any loss of volunteer-type work. In short, a terrible, speculative article with no facts or reasoning behind it. You could write an equally persuading case in the other direction simply by asserting all your key points in the way the author did.

Terrible article. Shouldn't have been posted.

I don't expect anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468573)

I don't expect anything from a lot of the free project I do. I don't do them to make money in any way whatsoever.

The sky is falling... (1)

eviloverlordx (99809) | about 6 years ago | (#25468583)

Or not. I'm sure there will be some casualties (there always are), but I don't think that this is the end of the (FOSS) world as we know it. You gotta love the Chicken Littles, though.

Straw men and whipping boys (1)

marsrise (1214630) | about 6 years ago | (#25468585)

So what's Keen going to write about when all of his favorite non-commerce-driven targets are "eliminated?"

Well... I know I'm going to stop coding OSS! (1)

croftj (2359) | about 6 years ago | (#25468591)

Yep, the first thing I thought to my self when the housing bubble burst and the stock market crashed was "Well that's it, no more writing opensource software for me!".

  Yea right! Some companies will quit contributing. Those that were doing it just to make a buck. Folks who do it because they feal it's the right thing to do will continue on through thick and thin.

It's not his fault, really! (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 6 years ago | (#25468603)

It is difficult for a businessman to believe that someone can work for anything other than money :)

Re:It's not his fault, really! (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 6 years ago | (#25468823)

Not just businessmen. A lot of fanfic writers get told by friends they should write for a living (just change the names), when they're usually quite happy working in a pleasant enough job and writing for fun.

My approach to such idiots is... (4, Insightful)

JamesP (688957) | about 6 years ago | (#25468605)


Every time an idiot says something that is not going to affect you directly, let it be!

Trust me, do you really wanna do business with people who believe this?? Do you want to be an employee who believe these things?

But guess what, you're right and they're wrong!

If my employer has a stupid idea, I either recommend against (and they usually listen) or I quit or I shut up.

If my competitor has a stupid idea, I just say "GREAT!!! GO AHEAD!!"

Economic Down Turns always spawn innovation (4, Insightful)

olddotter (638430) | about 6 years ago | (#25468615)

Most economic down turns spawn innovation. People no longer have nice cushy jobs soaking up their days. These people no longer have anything to lose (their job) by trying that great idea to build a better mouse trap. Some of them invent things really cool and successful.

Linux exists because Linus couldn't afford a real unix server, for example.

If the downturn turns into a depression, then no one will have money to pay anyone for services anyway. So the huddled masses will probably be bartering their services and still contribute to open source, because its the cheapest way for them to get the tools they need.

Take some money and buy a clue.

Marxist Economics (2, Interesting)

panda (10044) | about 6 years ago | (#25468619)

He makes the same fatal mistake that nearly all economists make when talking about labor. They assume that labor in and of itself has value. It doesn't. Only the products of the labor have value, and then only if someone is willing to value it.

Your labor is worthless if you work on something that no one values.

Sure, it would be nice if we could all be compensated for all of our labor all the time, but the real economy doesn't work that way. It only works that way in the wet dreams of Marxist economists.

Re:Marxist Economics (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | about 6 years ago | (#25468815)

He makes the same fatal mistake that nearly all economists make when talking about labor. They assume that labor in and of itself has value. It doesn't. Only the products of the labor have value, and then only if someone is willing to value it.

Waitaminit.. You're saying that an hour of a cardiovascular surgeon's time isn't worth the same as an hour of a fry cook's time? That's not _equality_...

Clearly you have not spent enough time in academia.

(ps: kudos for using an anti-Marxist argument for OSS, it gets so tedious when folks call OSS people commies.. To me OSS is more like standards, like a liter or gram, or the side of the road you drive on.. Imagine if you had to pay some institute in France a royalty to measure the mass or volume of something...)

I welcome this development (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468625)

And every web site will be transformed into money making porn sites.

Sorry (1)

hoofinasia (1234460) | about 6 years ago | (#25468627)

I'd comment but I'm too busy starving to death. The well dried up and my cattle were eaten by lions. Also, my interests were carried away by malnourished natives so I definitely won't be doing anything outside of work, and certainly not for free.

Its a recession, not the feckin apocalypse.

Hobbies (2, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | about 6 years ago | (#25468631)

Article is useless, since most open-source projects start as someone's hobby, and are contributed to by others coding as their hobby.

I realize that the quick-buck is all the rage these days, but the fact is that not everything is done for money. Some things are done for fun. Some are done because of a sense of duty to "give back" to society in some manner.

Open Source: A Primer (3, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 6 years ago | (#25468635)

Hi, Andrew! I know you're new to this and don't really understand these complicated ideas very well, but I'll try to help you.

My company has a program written in FoxPro. For reasons too long to explain, it's not going away any time soon. We needed a way to run queries against that data, and because FoxPro is too slow for interactive use, we decided to move that data into PostgreSQL. We looked and looked but there just wasn't a good program for regularly copying that data from one to the other on a scheduled basis. Eventually, I wrote one.

Now, my company isn't in the FoxPro-to-PostgreSQL conversion business. We have other, more interesting things to do all day than sell or support software. My boss, being enlightened, allowed me to release the program as Free Software [] so that other people could use it. It cost him absolutely nothing over what he'd already paid me to write the program. Since that first release, I've heard from users around the world who liked it and wanted new features or to make suggestions. Some of those features and suggestions turned out to be pretty good ideas for us, too, so I added them to the program.

My boss is happy because we really needed that program to conduct our business. I'm happy because I got to share a nice bit of code with the world. Random users everywhere are happy because they can spend their money on writing other cool programs and food and televisions instead of buying my program's commercial equivalent (if there was one). My boss got something nice, I got money to pay my mortgage, and everybody wins.

See, Andrew? It's not that hard! But please leave the big concepts to the adults until you get a little more practice, OK? Good boy.

Zealots always win (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about 6 years ago | (#25468651)

Guys like this don't understand that you cannot beat zealots. And I am using that word to not mean a negative thing. Someone who truly believes that open source is the way and gets something from it will not be turned to only build souless projects for a buck. No matter how many of these articles they pump out or how many chairs are thrown.

Yeah, right! (1)

flajann (658201) | about 6 years ago | (#25468659)

If this notion were true, OpenSource should've been wiped out by the Dot-com crash almost a decade ago.

If anything, OpenSource may be the very thing that helps to get us going again! Especially if there is no money to pay for software. The OSS itself is like gold if you know how to use it and leverage it.

But we'll always have our doomsayers. Reminds me of the "Decline and Fall of the American Programmer" book written a while back -- which turned out not to be the case, which then the author wrote a follow up -- "The Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer".

One only gets away with bad prognostications by hoping no one remembers them when they are proven wrong. Bad assumption to make in this day and age of the archived and cached Internet.

Perhaps... (1)

Camaro (13996) | about 6 years ago | (#25468667)

Perhaps the economic crisis might push people and companies to search for less expensive open source products.

End of the Internet Predicted: News at 11 (4, Interesting)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#25468671)

His whole premise is deeply flawed. People don't post stuff on these sites because they are so fat and happy that they just can't find anything better to do with their time. They do it because they want to be known for something, or they want to show off, or because they just want to contribute to a large project. None of these things are really affected by the economy.

Okay, some people might contribute less because they have to take 2 jobs or something, but that's a temporary phenomenon. For most people, their jobs will still occupy about 8 hours a day, and that still leaves several hours every day for farting around on the Internet, which often includes submitting content to these so-called "Open Source" content sites.

User-generated content was there at the beginning of the Web, and it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Maybe CNN will toss the iReport thing, but not because of the economic downturn. Sure, they might decide that now is a good time to end it because they have a convenient excuse, but the real reason to end it is because it's a cesspool of mouth breathers posting pictures of their cats and saying the same kind of mindless garbage that gets posted to CNN's Political Ticker. The iReport site doesn't do much more than allow CNN to post stories that would be of no more than local interest otherwise (ooh, a car on fire! Alert the media!).

As for Wikipedia, it has deep and fundamental flaws that may or may not eventually lead to its downfall, but the economic condition isn't going to change that one way or the other.

What a lot of rot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468677)

The last downturn I changed countries and was unemployed. Guess what i worked on to keep my skills up? That's right, Open source projects. I became active in several Open source projects, much more than I am today as now my employer doesn't give me the time to focus like I did back then. This article is sadly mistaken.

The "Masses" have never been the passionate ones to drive open source.

Yup (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 years ago | (#25468681)

Because open source has never weathered economic downturns before...


Troll (1)

navtal (943711) | about 6 years ago | (#25468697)

This guy is trolling. Open Source does not mean free. His article only suggests he is not familiar with the sites who's doom he is predicting.

Oh, puh-lease! (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 6 years ago | (#25468701)

> "The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren't going to continue giving away their intellectual
> labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some 'back end' revenue,"

Yeah, right! As the author of a dozen OSS projects, I can tell you right away that I did not "give them away in the speculative hope that they might get some back end revenue". I haven't made a cent on them, didn't plan to, and am not going to in the future. I'm not selling them because nobody would pay anything for them. I wrote them for my personal benefit, and open-sourced them because I had no reason not to. Perhaps someday someone will make something useful out of them, and make money from them, but I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, it costs me nothing to publish them, so I do. The depression will not change this. It may give people less free time to work on OSS, but that doesn't mean it's going away.

Job Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468709)

I would argue that many developers will contribute to open source to be more competitive in the job market. In particular, I imagine we will see many young developers in college or shortly after working on open source projects to bolster that hard to achieve early experience.

well... (1)

DigDuality (918867) | about 6 years ago | (#25468713)

If people are on economic hardtimes... why would they ditch a free service for a pay service? Someone doens't know crap about economics or human nature.

What about previous downturns? (1)

the_arrow (171557) | about 6 years ago | (#25468717)

Seems to me like open and free software managed pretty well in previous downturns. Why should this one be any different?

Finaly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468725)

Dam kids with their new names and the compressed bitmaps. Back in the day all I needed was regex to find porn.

Whatever (2, Insightful)

Jethro (14165) | about 6 years ago | (#25468739)

If Andrew Keen said the sun will rise tomorrow, and winter will be followed by spring, and the sky is blue and water is wet, I'd have serious doubts about those things. Or I'd assume he has yet another crackpot theory book out and he's promoting it. The guy's been predicting the death of Wikipedia and OSS for years now.

And wasn't there just an article the other day about how this crisis is GOOD for OSS?

It could be the other way round (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 years ago | (#25468745)

If IT professionals get laid off, they will probably along with looking for another job do open source work.

Everyone hopes they will get a job offer soon, but apart from being interesting and giving you something to do working on OSS could be beneficial if it takes a while to get another job.

If you have two candidates who have been out of work for several months and one says that he has worked on open source, and has some "thank you"s and testimonials you are going to know that he kept sharp.

Hungry and Cold Unemployed Masses? (3, Insightful)

JayAitch (1277640) | about 6 years ago | (#25468747)

The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren't going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some 'back end' revenue," says Keen.

Cash strapped consumers aren't going to want to pay for services they don't need.

Wow, I need a gig like this! (2, Interesting)

swordgeek (112599) | about 6 years ago | (#25468751)

When I read stories like this, or like the "RAID-5 will die next year" article earlier today, I feel like I'm in the wrong job. I mean, I could shoot my mouth off, spouting stupid things that almost make sense if you don't scratch the surface too hard.

People who get paid to write/create online may find that jobs (and payment) are scarcer, but people who provide volunteer time (wikipedia, etc.) aren't going to suddenly stop doing it because they're unemployed. In fact, some of them are probably going to have more time on their hands.

I predict that there will be an increase in online suicide notes in the next three years, and also that everyone will point to the internet as the problem instead of recognising it as a time-sink for the already suicidally depressed. Unfortunately, I don't have any specious facts to bolster my opinion (which of course, I'd angrily claim to be inevitable and obvious to anyone but the most clueless), so I guess I'll never be on Fox News, write for Fast Company, or blog (for pay!) on Internet Evolution.

a couple of days ago some guy said ju the opposite (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 6 years ago | (#25468759)

that the downturn would boost FOSS software's share of the "market".

No doubt when the upturn arrives, we'll see all these arguments rolled out again, for whatever self-serving purpose they support.

In the mean time it gives some unknowns their 5 minutes in the spotlight.

A more likely target (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | about 6 years ago | (#25468761)

It'll be harder to argue for expensive new Oracle, SAP and similar licenses. Oh sure, that database that's just a large bit bucket will cost your business a few hundred thousand dollars to implement! Just lay off a worker or two to fit it into your budget.


If anything, it'll be easier now to justify using OSS because the ridiculous cost of most enterprise software will become more apparent to the customers. I predict that if this continues, you'll see more companies forced to use OSS out of necessity simply because they cannot justify buying the extremely expensive licenses for proprietary software.

On a related note, Keen is one of those guys who laments the loss of our "high culture." The dude is a day late and a dollar short in his whole analysis. Western high culture started taking a nose dive 100 years ago with the rise of political populism. If anything will help to bring it back, it'll be putting better, cheaper tools into the hands of content producers so that they can do more work with less effort.

Just don't look (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 6 years ago | (#25468765)

Andrew Keen is a bitter, jealous academic and a failed entrepreneur. He has no credibility, because he has never created anything of value. I mean, for Gods' sake, he even looks the health inspector from Ghostbusters! Yes, it is true...

If you don't pay attention to Andrew Keen, he just goes away.

Just don't look. Just don't look.

I remember... (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | about 6 years ago | (#25468771)

I remember when this guy was on The Colbert Report, plugging his book. He was such a pompous, self-important blowhard that Colbert (who is very good at pretending to be a pompous, self-important blowhard) seemed completely flat.

Author is wrong; article is wrong. Nothing to see here.

Rebuttal (2, Funny)

bijanbwb (1313615) | about 6 years ago | (#25468775)

Statistically speaking, the world doesn't end all that often.

How to mod an article as a Troll? (2, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 years ago | (#25468791)

Clearly set before this audience to get a reaction.

Besides, when I was unemployed, I had nothing to do but:

  1. Look for work
  2. Play the unemployment reimbursement game
  3. Play at speculative "hobby jobs" - my main one was real-estate sales, which wasn't a bad call in 2003 in Miami.

The unemployed have LOTS of time on their hands, and open source is one way to do something productive that may lead to some direct income, or at the very least demonstrate your skills to prospective employers.

I certainly would hire someone who could point to a dozen intelligently edited Wikipedia articles that they contributed to over another candidate who has nothing to show for their last 6 months.

stupidest article ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25468797)

"Being paid to work is intuitive to the human condition; it represents our most elemental sense of justice."

Justice would be if this moron joined the ranks of the unemployed.

Micropayments will become a reality (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 6 years ago | (#25468799)

But not because of internet becoming pay only. I think small donations, for projects like Wikipedia, or sites you like, may spur it. I just hope paypal doesn't ride this as I hate paypal with a passion. Micropayments would have to be a structure where only a few percent get taken away, not the current credit card structure of $0.35 per transaction plus 1-2% which translated to 35% or more for $1.00 purchases.

I would like micropayments for things like flash games or others - not to provide make the flash games that are given away for free suddenly pay-for, but to spurn development of BETTER games. A lot of flash games now are either free or expensive ($10) for what I consider it's niche and probably could make many more sales at a lower price (bell curve). Kind of like iTunes $0.99 pricing.

Micropayments would be nice for e-books and other things to suck authors in with a viable scheme while epaper starts to take off.

"a rise of online media businesses that reward their contributors with cash."

Yes, but financed by commercials, it will be more of a profit sharing venture.

anovwl (1)

Bazman (4849) | about 6 years ago | (#25468803)

"the elimination of projects including Wikipedia, CNN's iReport, and much of the blogosphere"

    how come this hasn't been tagged with "and nothing of value was lost"....

More open source (2, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | about 6 years ago | (#25468809)

Exactly the opposite will happen. There will be more open source because the 'poor starving masses' with software development skills will have nothing else to do.

  What will change will be the emphasis upon which open source will be focused. There will be less development on games and DRM bypassing and more on programs that connect people together for economic development. More CraigsList-type of development and less BitTorrent.

    There will be a lot of development on software that builds groups with common economic interests that are separated by great distances. Things that corporations almost exclusively do now, such as buying and delivering groceries from distant farms or cereal processing factories.

    In severe economic times, people will be less not more inclined to allow their labor to be diverted into the generation of corporate profit. The concept that software workers will be giving more time to well-paying jobs assumes that are actually going to be well-paying jobs for software workers. In a severe recession or Soviet-style economic collapse, that simply won't be the case.

What an idiot. (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 6 years ago | (#25468819)

Andrew Keen, whose picture makes him look like a douchebag [] , wrote:

Is $0.00 really the future of labor in an age of mass unemployment?

Depends on the depth of unemployment. For one thing, Zero is Slave Wages, and people will sell themselves into slavery long before they starve, so yes, one could make a case for Zero Wages as the future of labour. A depressing and dystopian vision of future labour, not one without precedent.

For another - if you're dealing with people who have no money, they will sell their computer and cut their internet off before they starve, making the whole point completely moot.

He then blathered on:

One of the very few positive consequences of the current financial miasma will be a sharp cultural shift in our attitude toward the economic value of our labor. Mass unemployment and a deep economic recession comprise the most effective antidote to the utopian ideals of open-source radicals.

OR, as economic problems tighten, corporations will go to Open source solutions due to their low costs, [] and they will advocate a collective shared effort in order to develop a software resource "commons" that everyone can leverage to their own advantage.

His position is deeply flawed. If money is tight, not only will companies seek cheap or free solutions, individuals who are far less capitalised will do much the same. Also, if money is so tight that blog based news suffers THIS DOES NOT MEAN that there will be some magical investment in paid journalism.

I humbly submit that Keen is a Troll, and he spews this nonsense just to get noticed and get his page count up.


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