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Toward the Open Company

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the putting-it-on-the-line dept.

Software 272

Arto Stimms writes "The author of the e text editor is using the principles of open source to transform his company into an Open Company. Not only is he releasing the source, the company itself becomes totally open: no concept of bosses or employees. Anyone can join in at any time, doing whatever task they find interesting, for whatever time they find appropriate. This is in service of the idea of 'the real freedom zero': the freedom to decide for yourself what you want to work on."

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Just like a closed company... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27314611)

...but without the paycheck.

Hackers. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27314755)

Was the best movie of all time.

Re:Just like a closed company... (4, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314881)

However, you can fire yourself and then go collect unemployment.

Re:Just like a closed company... (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315403)

No somebody already tried that (quit his own company after the economy went to ____), but the government turned him down. He complained because he had been paying unemployment tax for all those years, but was barred from getting it when he needed it.

Re:Just like a closed company... (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315955)

At least in Canada, you don't get unemployment insurance if you quit, it's only for people who are laid off.

unionslol. (0)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314695)

You think your unorthodox HR practices will protect you from labor laws and unions? LOL!

Obama's Teleprompter Speaks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27314841)

I don't want to ruin the surprises in tonight's nationally televised press conference, but I wanted to tell you about the dress rehearsal we did for it about an hour ago.

Don't get in a lather about the scripted nature of the event. It's true the Bush Administration never rehearsed with their press corps, but no one ever wanted to actually watch their prime time specials. "The Obama Show" is a prime time info-tainment show, like "Access Hollywood" and "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." We need to rehearse.

I have to say, The Boss was on fire today at rehearsal. We worked extra hard on his pointing. So when David Gregory asks the third question of the night, The Man will wheel around and point emphatically at him to reinforce his resilience and long fingers. It looked really good from where I was standing next to the podium.

The plan right now is for me to be there doing my job, but I'm a little uncomfortable with the layout of the room. The Huffington Post correspondent's chair is right behind me, and I don't like having my back to him.

I don't think it will work... (4, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314731)

This is the kind of thinking that made the hippie commune into the corporate juggernaut it is today. By "corporate juggernaut" I mean, virtually extinct.

The best "Open" corporate structure I've ever head of was a company that had a policy where no person could make more than seven times as much money as any other person in the company.

Re:I don't think it will work... (0, Redundant)

hemp (36945) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314875)

When Steve Jobs started Next Computers, there were only two salary levels. Of course, it didn't last very long.

Re:I don't think it will work... (2, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315123)

When Steve Jobs started Next Computers, there were only two salary levels. Of course, it didn't last very long.

If the leaders of the company are corrupt, there are many ways to get around these types of corporate rules. The first method that comes to mind is by creating an Enron style shell corporation. It's very difficult to create such a transparent corporate environment and keep it that way. However, for every Next, there is a Berkshire Hathaway, where the CEO [wikipedia.org] makes a mere $100k/year.

Have you heard of John Lewis? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315035)

The best 'Open' corporate structure I've heard of is the John Lewis Partnership in the UK.

ALL employees are 'partners', from the shelf stackers in Waitrose to the head honcho of the group. Yes the pay varies, but they all get the same bonus as a percentage of their salary.

The percentage is announced at the same time across all stores. By all accounts it's a very good place to work.

-Ben

Re:Have you heard of John Lewis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315227)

Look into the Mondragon Cooperatives in Spain, they have a very interesting approach. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragn_Cooperative_Corporation [wikipedia.org]

Re:Have you heard of John Lewis? (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315277)

Friggin' Slashcode form handling... so 1990's.

The link above is supposed to have an acute-accented 'o' between the 'g' and the 'n'.

Re:I don't think it will work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315145)

The best "Open" companies I've heard of are worker co-operatives. Like any company, some of these struggle and some do phenomenally well.

In the bay area, check out The Cheeseboard Collective and, if you're so inclined, The Lusty Lady.

Re:I don't think it will work... (5, Insightful)

mrlibertarian (1150979) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315295)

...a policy where no person could make more than seven times as much money as any other person in the company.

Imagine two goods, good A and good B, that are sold on the open market. Good A sells for a price that is eight times greater than good B. Person A was able to produce good A in one day, and person B was able to produce good B in one day. So, on the open market, person A makes eight times more money than person B in the same period of time. That means consumers have judged person A to be eight times more productive than person B, even if person B worked much harder!

So, if person A and person B happen to be working for the same company, why shouldn't their boss pay person A eight times more than person B? Why should their boss come up with some arbitrary limit?

Re:I don't think it will work... (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315365)

If that were the case, the company should seriously think about producing more of good A and less of good B.

I get that it's a hypothetical, but it's not realistic. You're trying to force a choice when that choice doesn't really need to be made... There are other options.

Re:I don't think it will work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315405)

morality?

Re:I don't think it will work... (3, Interesting)

Esc7 (996317) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315593)

I know by your handle this is going to fall on deaf ears but:

Your theoretical example is perfectly logical. Unfortunately I'm having a hard time transferring it to a real world example in my company, or other companies.

Now if one person made oranges and the other made gold bars it would make perfect sense. But people don't "make" oranges. They pick them. Or they plant them. Or they tell people when to pick them or plant them. Or they supervise people who tell other people when to pick or plant or water them. A little more complicated now right?

What people produce isn't really goods, it is "work" that is added to things to make them more valuable. Turning a lump of clay into a statue. Turning libraries and code into programs. Turning ore into metal. Turning disparate data into a useful statistical analysis for the rest of the company.

Unless you're talking about yesteryear artisans and craftsmen, you're going to be hard pressed to find a person who completely produces a good with no help. In fact, some would say the whole point of modern industrialization is that we take complicated things and break them down so we can move any person around and still produce the same good.

And when the production isn't an assembly line anymore and becomes this complex web of people who do jobs which effects are near impossible to quantify, well I would say hugely differing salaries are not as defensible. Plus having this "artificial" limit tells the employees that if there is a rising tide, it will raise all ships. People like fairness and equality and the feeling that someone gives a damn about you and if this policy accomplishes that, good for them.

Re:I don't think it will work... (4, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315777)

Imagine two goods, good A and good B, that are sold on the open market...

I've been through the economic allegories hundreds of times before. All of us on Slashdot have. I've read the Wikipedia summary of Atlas Shrugged [wikipedia.org] (sorry, I'm not reading it, too high of an opportunity cost), and have been through several semesters of college economics, accounting, and finance.

I look around today and say to myself, I could run GM, Lehman Brothers, and AIG, into the ground just as well as anybody. Why shouldn't I get paid the big bucks like those guys? The fact is, they aren't worth what they get paid. There is some sort of flaw in that logic. If Ayn Rand was right, engineers would make more money than CEOs.

Seven times the minimum salary isn't an "arbitrary limit", the owner of the company I mentioned spent quite a bit of time figuring out that amount. At the time I met the owner of that company he was making $350k and the janitor was making $50k. If the janitor wasn't worth $50k, he would fire him, it's that simple. He told me that the janitor was very good at his job, and had been working for him for many years.

Policies like that encourage people to be conscientious about their work. It also reduces employee turnover, and hostility between the work force and the management. In the end, the company is more efficient because of it.

Re:I don't think it will work... (1)

aaandre (526056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315919)

Because contribution is not only measured by resulting profit. In a company with integrity the commitment goes not only to profit but also to the stakeholders. Maybe person B's project contributes to the company in ways that are not measured in cash.

Social Darwinism (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315465)

This is the kind of thinking that made the hippie commune into the corporate juggernaut it is today. By "corporate juggernaut" I mean, virtually extinct.

This is the very essence of Social Darwinism. The success of those in charge proves that they deserve success. The failure of those on the bottom proves that they deserve failure. Social Darwinism is a propaganda tool used by conservatives to maintain the current power structure. It has no place in a reasoned discussion.

Re:I don't think it will work... (4, Interesting)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315489)

The best "Open" corporate structure I've ever head of was a company that had a policy where no person could make more than seven times as much money as any other person in the company.

Ben & Jerry tried that, gave it up after a few years... nobody wants to buy $23/quart ice cream and they just couldn't get competent executive management to stick around at 7x the salary of cost competitive labor.

Re:I don't think it will work... (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315891)

Not that I don't believe you, but do you have a source to back that up?

Re:I don't think it will work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315587)

"The best "Open" corporate structure I've ever head of was a company that had a policy where no person could make more than seven times as much money as any other person in the company."

So if your company is 10,000 employes. Do you plan to pay the guy sweeping your floors at night 100,000$ a year or do you plan to not be able to higher competent managers because you are only willing to offer your CEO 70,000$ a year (less than 10% of what he can make at a "normal" company)?

Re:I don't think it will work... (2, Funny)

alen (225700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315665)

very easy to set up, just outsource all the low paying stuff to contractors

Re:I don't think it will work... (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315727)

Actually in Mondragon in the Basque country they have worker-cooperatives working as a corporate structure, but everyone else who tries it seem to behave like dumb hippies by overemphasizing the "worker-owned" bit and leaving the "business" to rot.

communism (1, Flamebait)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314735)

-1 flamebait.

But seriously. how do you expect to make a profit? Why form a company?

nothing to see here, move along.

Re:communism (1)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314963)

But seriously. how do you expect to make a profit?

I suspect they plan to sell a product. Possibly, and I'm going out on a limb here, the existing product the established company already sells.

Re:communism (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315701)

If you had the proper infrastructure, it could be based on a proportion of work done on the project that is sold. How you measure that work is another issue. They are using a peer review system to do it. It would be like getting paid part of the ad revenue to post insightful comments on Slashdot stories...

Re:communism (0, Offtopic)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315553)

good to know the mods are on top of it.

Do people often put -1 flamebait in their subjects so people will know how to appropriately mod?

This one is + 1 interesting and also -1 off topic.

This looks promising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27314741)

This looks as promising as the dirty hippy factory I built last year. Buy one dirty hippy get one free, for a limited time at DirtyHippyFactory.com. Offer void in Ohio and where prohibited by law. Limit 2 dirty hippies per household.

sit on my ass (2, Interesting)

mikey177 (1426171) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314777)

so i can sit on my ass reading slashdot all day and say that i am contributing to research and development.

Re:sit on my ass (4, Funny)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314807)

That's disconcertingly close to what I actually do.

Re:sit on my ass (1)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315071)

so i can sit on my ass reading slashdot all day and say that i am contributing to research and development.

Sure, but by the model they've outlined, you won't earn anything for it unless other contributors find it valuable.

Like Home (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314793)

It's just like staying in the comfort of your own home, indulging in your hobby of programming, only you're somewhere else!

Re:Like Home (1)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315151)

It's just like staying in the comfort of your own home, indulging in your hobby of programming, only you're somewhere else!

Exactly like that, except you would not, in fact, be somewhere else. Oh, and you get money (if the company makes any, and you've contributed). So basically, it's just like the opposite of what you said, except for the word "programming".

Ok, I will join! (-1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314797)

I will read the code and I expect to be paid US$1,000,000 a month.

Oh, you mean this company is not going to pay me and I should work for free?

Um, no.

Re:Ok, I will join! (5, Informative)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314891)

Oh, you mean this company is not going to pay me and I should work for free?

Read. The. Fucking. Article.

No, really.

Re:Ok, I will join! (1)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315095)

Oh, you mean this company is not going to pay me and I should work for free?

Read. The. Fucking. Article.

No, really.

Lower UIDs concur.

Re:Ok, I will join! (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315435)

Yes, we do.

Then again, this is slashdot. Since when have most commenters *ever* RTFA?

Re:Ok, I will join! (2, Interesting)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315601)

Lowerer UIDs concurer ... oh, wait..

Re:Ok, I will join! (2, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315363)

Hey dude, there's no bosses around here. Giving orders is like uncool, man.

Re:Ok, I will join! (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315089)

You should upgrade to DaveV2.0 (I heard the feature set includes RTFA'ing).

There is a trustrank plan for assigning compensation, which is a little farfetched, IMO. FTA:

By basing the compensation on continuous rating by your peers, it becomes possible to start out by just participating a bit in your free time, and then gradually, as your ratings increase, spend more and more time on the project.

The problem is that any kind of trustrank system can be gamed. This would likely degenerate into a core clique that games the system to reward themselves disproportionately -- even if the concept ever got off the ground.

Never mind the people who make valuable contributions that are unpopular among code contributors (such as marketing, sales, accounting, etc).

Re:Ok, I will join! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315203)

Kind of like the Prisoner's Dilemma. Now we'll have everyone giving each other high marks so everyone will get high pay.

Re:Ok, I will join! (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315625)

Except it's not the prisoner's dilemma (as classically stated), because cooperation will always return less than cheating, and double-betrayal returns equal to cooperation. Eg. I assign you 1/100th share and you assign me 1/100th share - equal shares, we both split the proceeds equally. If I assign you 1/2 share, and you assign me 1/2 share, we both split the proceeds equally. If I assign you 1/100th share and you assign me 1/2 share, I walk away with almost everything. I've not RTFA, so I'm not sure if that's what they are doing exactly, but if so there is no incentive to cooperate under that schema.

Re:Ok, I will join! (1)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315257)

Never mind the people who make valuable contributions that are unpopular among code contributors (such as marketing, sales, accounting, etc).

That's a valid point. I suspect necessary services such as accounting are an outsourced cost, not part of the internal system, although I confess I haven't dug that deep.

Technical writers, sales, and such may get the shaft, if programmers turn out to (a) be overwhelming in numbers relative to other folks, and (b) be short-sighted enough to rank down non-programmers in the trust system regardless of work quality. It'll be interesting t'see how it plays out.

Re:Ok, I will join! (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315753)

This would likely degenerate into a core clique that games the system to reward themselves disproportionately -- even if the concept ever got off the ground.

So basically, executives?

Minor problem with their plan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315515)

So... working (or rather... participating in, since you get *paid* for work) there, I hope that one of the major projects they're working on is how to prepare dirt and sand into edible food and wearable clothes. For free. Because the grocery store or my landlord certainly aren't going to be on-board for this free living.

Or if it's meant that we just volunteer there when we're not at our REGULAR job, then it'd better be open 24/7, since generally people are at *work* during the day.

You'd have to have people really into working there too, since of course they'll be paying for the commute to and from there. Also with a physical office, you can absolutely guarantee that anything of even remote value will be stolen.

And this is why open source anything so far is online and non-physical. Society as a whole is a crime-hole, and I pity those pretending it's not. They'll learn soon enough.

apples and oranges (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314839)

It seems that running a successful business or venture, profit or not is more complex task than writing software.

It is simple to see on the example of open software open company.

Open software company: open code + choice company organization of sails, marketing and distribution (that can include "open company" if it is profitable)
Open software open company: open code + one particular type of company organization (no boss).

First method has more variability than the second and have more chances to survive.

There's already a name for this... (3, Informative)

Chris Missiles (1505239) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314845)

I think the new buzzword for this is "crowdsourcing".

Bzzzzzzz bzz bzzzzz bzzzz (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314907)

Or cloudsourcing. No. Crowdcomputing? Wait... Clouds of crowds sourcing computers?

Re:Bzzzzzzz bzz bzzzzz bzzzz (1)

menkhaura (103150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315077)

Just try imagining a beowulf cluster of that!

Er... I'm getting old... going to bed now.

Re:There's already a name for this... (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315137)

clownsourcing.

Re:There's already a name for this... (4, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315815)

I think the new buzzword for this is "crowdsourcing".

I was thinking more along the lines of "abandonware".

No longer interested in being the sole contributor to your yet-another-editor software project? Send out a press release touting it as a new paradigm in "Open management"!

Cool (5, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314857)

They can invent "Open Bankruptcy" next. Call me when they reach "Open Assets Selloff" by the creditors.

What? Too cynical? Is that even possible anymore?

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315885)

I think they already created an "Open smart asshole trying to explore stupid geeks and get them working for free with the promise of some communist utopia".
This DOESN'T WORK! People work FOR MONEY! Money buys happiness, money buys hot cars, money buys big houses, money buys hot girls.
An open company means that some smart asshole will be buying all this stuff with my work, and I will think I am a hippie walking naked and coding. Come on, Microsoft started this way, and everybody knows where they are now. Bill Gates is not a poor hippie living on a tent.
Money talks, BS walks! No money, no honey.

Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (-1, Flamebait)

Woolf (682586) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314867)

Taking socialism to its extreme. I can't believe we have really come to this.. Does no one read the history books. Hello.

Re:Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (2, Insightful)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314989)

Atlas Shrugged is not actually a history book. It's not even a good piece of fiction, and the economics and politics therein are laughable.

Re:Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (1)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315411)

"Adolescent" was a fitting term I once heard used as a description for Rand's work.

She was a screen writer, after all. The novels were side projects of hers.

Re:Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (0)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315439)

Maybe, but it makes some good points with them. They extreme beyond reality to show those points clearly, instead of being muddied with grey areas.

It's supposed to highlight a problem and describe a philosophy, and it does it very, very well.

Re:Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315995)

Atlas Shrugged has its place among the numerous other philosophical works presenting wild economic ideas, including works by Locke, Mill, Marx, Pound, and Skinner (to name only a few). Skinner is especially apt to mention, as he describes in fiction an idealized commune much in the same way Rand describes an idealized market. Neither one properly treats the full complexity of the issue.

Re:Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (0, Flamebait)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314993)

Go Galt already, asshole. I'm tired of your incessant whining.

Re:Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315027)

"Atlas Shrugged" is a *history* book? Perhaps you should read it again, this time more carefully.

Re:Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (3, Informative)

Hemogoblin (982564) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315321)

Getting really offtopic, but I thought I'd share this interesting Economist article regarding Atlas Shrugged.

Atlas felt a sense of deja vu
Feb 26th 2009
The economic bust has caused a boom for at least one author

BOOKS do not sell themselves: that is what films are for. "The Reader", the book that inspired the Oscar-winning film, has shot up the bestseller lists. Another recent publishing success, however, has had more help from Washington, DC, than Hollywood. That book is Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged".

http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13185404 [economist.com]

Re:Seriously.. has no one read Atlas Shrugged (3, Funny)

overzero (1358049) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315379)

I'll read your "history book" when you watch my "documentary." [youtube.com]

Still sounds like a boss (1)

inputdev (1252080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314931)

All income in the company (minus operating expenses), will be passed through the trust metric and distributed to participants -- emphasis mine. Who's determining his own salary?

Re:Still sounds like a boss (2, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315181)

Yeah, it kind of sounds possible to use trust metrics to distribute the salary. But what kind of trust metrics?

If he uses his example of advogato, then co-workers would upmod their peers. But I'm not sure that structure creates the right incentives for modders - if I upmod some stranger, he gets a bigger piece of the pie - every upmod I do makes my take smaller. Every downmod makes my piece bigger. And if friends upmod friends, maybe they'll be expecting some kind of reciprocity.

This "opem source company" is a really interesting idea, but to the extent that trust metrics can be gamed, the concept can be broken.

Sounds Like an Open Co-op (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315339)

The guy doing this determines the operating expenses, including (I'd assume) their own salary. If it's really as open as they claim, all the accounting will be public, too. So anyone who wants to do some work can see how much the company is spending on those operating expenses, and the (ongoing) income statements. If they accept it as reasonable, they can do the work, or they can just not do the work.

This principle could work. It's like a cooperative [wikipedia.org] company, "employee owned", but without employees owning shares in the corporation getting dividends of the profits (income - expenses), just a direct share. Eliminating the shareholding eliminates control, but it also makes coming and going as a "profitholder" much easier.

Of course the real problem is the "trust metric". It's a popularity rating, set by members of the group on anyone else who joins the group. Joining requires only contributing code. There's going to be a fair amount of (paid) work by group members reviewing the code to decide trust, but that's a necessary part of software quality anyway.

The real problem is for people who contribute code (or review, or other work) who aren't rewarded with trust metrics by others in the group, perhaps because of a bias by some against others because of the type of work. If some people contribute only code, and others contribute only review, that might lead to a "class war" where one group discounts the value of the other, regardless of the (only guessable) "real" value of each kind of work to the profits being divided up. If more people review than code, even if that's not necessary, and the reviwers all have a bias in rewarding each other's work more than they reward coders, an coders don't have a bigger bias against reviewers to compensate for their smaller numbers, then reviewers will get a higher rate of reward than coders. Which could prevent any coders from contributing. Or the sizes/biases could be reversed, and reviewers could get shorted enough that no one reviews.

I think this project goes too far all at once. If this system were familiar across our large Internet development population through its exercise within closed groups, with more permanent membership, perhaps assigned traditionally by a boss who hires, it's less likely to be torn apart by people who don't understand they're working against their own best interests. Then, once it's understood to be workable by people who understand their best interests, and not just an easy target for losers looking to game a system they merely clumsily destroy, maybe the transition from co-op to open co-op would work.

Does anyone know of any successful closed co-ops running like this one, but centrally hired, fired and assigned shares of the profits?

Trust Metrics (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314967)

Want a glimpse of how this works out? Think about Karma on slashdot or karma on reddit. If you've participated attentively in either of those systems you already know how problematic this will be.
 
First time I read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, I thought the idea of huffy was pretty cool. Since then, seeing how such popularity systems work on the web has made me realize it may not be that great a system.

Re:Trust Metrics (2, Insightful)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315163)

Want a glimpse of how this works out? Think about Karma on slashdot or karma on reddit. If you've participated attentively in either of those systems you already know how problematic this will be.

Honestly, I've seen a lot of people complain about the Karma/moderation system on slashdot, but I've never seen a problem with it. I actually find it works quite well (for me at least). If I'm having a really bad day and write a flamebait sort of post, it'll generally be modded as such. The majority of my posts don't get modded at all, and when I write something that particularly interests people, it tends to get up-modded accordingly.

It may just be that I've never been targetted by any of those types that downmod based purely on their personal feelings of me personally, but looking at the mods in general on posts, I do tend to agree with them, so clearly it's working in general at least.

Re:Trust Metrics (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315239)

The most recurring complaint I've seen with the slashdot mod system is from people complaining that it enforces groupthink. In otherwords, it's perfect for a corporate environment.

Re:Trust Metrics (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315313)

I can see how groupthink could occur from such a system, but I really don't think it does happen all that much in reality. If you look at the comments on any article, you'll generally find quite a lot of "disagreement" and people being modded up (and down) on both sides of any debate. I'll concede that it may be bad for completely "off the side" arguments in some cases, but I really don't think all. I also think that a trust metrics system as proposed in TFA would work even better, since it'd be mostly free of the kind of petty attitudes that do from time to time negatively affect the slashdot mod system.

Re:Trust Metrics (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315821)

Speaking from personal experience, the system is broken. On two separate occasions, I've gone from the karma cap to neutral or bad, just because I got involved in a lively debate, and had the nerve to take up a position the moderators that day disagreed with.

So yes, it does happen. It happened to me twice.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315015)

If it's all about open source and free software - why is there a "trial version" and licence fee for the software?

an idea whose time has come (1)

damas (469487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315045)

This sounds a lot like the idea I had 1 year ago , but never had time to put in practice. [I'm still slaving for a "corporate juggernaut"]

I was planning to call it the Virtual Company - a completely flat structure where teams and individuals work on commercial / open projects of choice. [By the way I know some great sales guys with telecom contacts which can pull in contracts worth several million / year ].

Now I see the same idea on slashdot. The time has come for revolution ;-) Going to RTA as soon as I finish the Customer Solution Description I'm working on (probably around 3 AM local time).

And it is all voluntary. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315049)

Great idea! Why don't you all come and work for my company for free!

Re:And it is all voluntary. (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315639)

Except if you weren't a moron you'd notice he isn't asking you to work for free!

Clogged pipes (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315159)

I bet the have no janitor...

Who gets the scut work? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315205)

'the real freedom zero': the freedom to decide for yourself what you want to work on.

What happens when nobody wants to do the unglamorous, low paying work?

Re:Who gets the scut work? (1)

damas (469487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315559)

In that case I assume somebody will get payed to write a program to do the job.

Or they will have to increase the pay...

Open source governance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315219)

This is reminiscent of open source governance [wikipedia.org] . However the concept is a little more sensible in the realm of governance, where people are (allegedly) not actively trying to make money.

"releasing the source" on a tight leash (2, Informative)

mattdm (1931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315245)

From the blog post:

The source will be made a available, so that users can study and modify the application for their own needs. If they want to contribute their changes back, they can submit them for review. To discourage piracy, a tiny but essential core (also containing the licensing code), will be kept private (at least until users reach a certain rating).

Earlier in the post it says "The central dilemma of Open Source is, and has always been, how to make a living doing it" -- but then it turns out that the actual plan is a non sequitur.

I have a question, though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315275)

Can I work from home??

Digging through the references. (3, Funny)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315283)

Digging through the references, I got here [wikipedia.org] . Then I saw this

Slashdot introduced its notion of karma, earned for activities perceived to promote group effectiveness, an approach that has been very influential in later virtual communities.

So, to get paid more, you just say that Apple did it better and the Microsoft's version sucks and the best implementation is in Linux?

And to get vacation do you post stuff to get "Funny" ratings like; "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of e-editors" or "In Soviet Russia the e-Editor you!" and then there's the "All your e-Editors are belong to us!"

Yep, the Open Business, sounds like a great way for the Karma whore to make a living!

Re:Digging through the references. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315527)

Wait, you mean I can get fired for showing goatse to my colleagues?

A central office to manage a decentral business (1)

hamanaka (894048) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315297)

I just wrote a business plan for a business that creates and manages open source Joomla websites. One of my goals is to create environments where everyone can cluster their thoughts. the business plan is on my website vertualize.com I just turned in the business plan yesterday for a competition in Northern California.

Holy shit, more non-businesses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315841)

Seriously, managing bits? That's your "business"? Nothing real gets created. We need real tangible products, or service to real tangible products. Not imaginary items. This is why the USA fell behind, we're obsessed with the abstract, and not with the real.

Wake up America, seriously. You're living in a virtual dreamworld. The Matrix is the next stop for you.

Am a smidgen disappointed (1)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315377)

On reading this, was looking forward to snagging a copy if it is open source, as the current Windows open source text editor I use is not entirely to my liking.

No dice. This company has an interesting variation on open source:

"... To discourage piracy, a tiny but essential core (also containing the licensing code), will be kept private (at least until users reach a certain rating)."

Well, they got some free publicity on Slashdot at any rate.

Anyone recommend a good Windows editor? Not into vi/emacs style editors. Wordpad/Notepad do as a last resort, but are not designed for technical uses.

I use an IDE for code, but frequently need a programmers editor for data files or when using PCs other than my development box.

Textpad is shareware and may not have been bought at some companies. I found its Unicode support problematic in the past. Handles massive data files well though.

Notepad++ is free &open source, but a little rough around the edges in usability. Like many IDEs, it adds code folding to XML documents. When XML files are very large this is a problem due to the number of widgets that get created to support minimizing and maximizing each parent node. Notepad++ managed to crash the video drivers on one PC here, which is almost perversely impressive.

Re:Am a smidgen disappointed (1)

Electrawn (321224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315653)

UltraEdit. Text, Hex Editor. Code Folding.

not the first utopian commune, not the last (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315395)

rule of thumb: if your plans for a group/ community/ company/ society relies upon people acting dependably in ways no group of humans have ever acted, in any society, in the history of the world, its gonna fail

human nature is what it is. learn its good parts, learn its ugly parts, and don't imagine you are ever going to change them

Re:not the first utopian commune, not the last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315537)

The mondragon co-operative shows that you are wrong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondrag%C3%B3n_Cooperative_Corporation

dude, i wish you luck (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315797)

i am not foolish enough that i think i can convert a True Believer in a forum thread

the only thing that will teach you is to try and fail on your own terms. there are many suboptimal business structures out there. you can limp along in mediocrity for decades. but you won't achieve true business success, at least i don't think. hell, prove me wrong, go for it, i don't know everything. but i'm completely unimpressed. all you have here is a formula for mediocre marginalia in my mind

ideas on organization are always in competition. what is the yardstick we use to measure them? simple monetary success or monetary failure. if this structure you champion is based on nothing more than a desire to compete and win in a pure business environment, then it is sound, and will succeed, and beat out other organizational structures

or it won't

welcome the jubngle of ideas, competing in darwinian struggle. you're going to need more than optimistic idealism to survive out there. good luck, little pioneer

Re:not the first utopian commune, not the last (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315925)

See also:
    "The Original Affluent Society" by Marshall Sahlins
    http://www.eco-action.org/dt/affluent.html [eco-action.org]

A key idea of free and open source technologies is that they are ultimately so much better and easier to maintain, that if only one person in a thousand feels like contributing (say, with Debian), that makes more than enough productivity to support everyone.

But what about all the "slackers" who will consume without giving back? The answer is just, "So what?" Why not have pity on such people who are stuck in such an embarrassingly juvenile state of mind?

If a few can supply the many, then, so what of the slackers? Who cares? Why build a whole mythology around slackers? And surprisingly, there may be less slackers than one might expect, because when you have the freedom to make things your way, without a "boss", there is often a lot of fun to be had in making things. Just look at all the kids making free music for the internet these days. Or people writing web pages. :-)

Examples like the Israeli Kibbutzim have already shown in the past that even with hard manual labor, there are always a bunch of schmucks (like maybe even myself and my wife, or many others already working in non-profits :-)
        http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/summary_gwi.html [kurtz-fernhout.com]
who are willing to work hard even with apparent slackers in their face. Sure, Kibbutzim had problems with slackers, but modern automated robotic technology changes the nature of that situation:
        http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=agricultural+robot [google.com]
(and without bringing in migrant laborers to exploit and expose to pesticides). And how hard can it be to sit in your GPS-driven air-conditioned tractor and listen to free music? Or even make some more music of your own in between keeping an eye on how the robots are doing?

We're may be about to see an entire change *back* to the way things used to be.

This is the world the prospective college student is probably imagining these days as in their future -- or will be soon. :-) Robot tractors. Free music. GNU/Linux everywhere. Slackers who only take stuff and don't make stuff as being "so junior high" or "so nursing home". Essentially, these kids are imagining (or will soon) a John Lennon "Imagine" sort of world -- with abundance and security for all. With robot tractors able to get higher yields from less land and less water through precision farming, why fight so much about the agricultural fields or river water? With nanotech solar panels and nanotech near-perfect insulation, why fight about the oil fields?

Here is part of a sci-fi story about the flip side of that "Imagine" world kids are thinking about, where it all goes horribly wrong, say, with a Stanford-led elite unable to let go of a fear of scarcity, and instead using the robots to guard most of the world who are kept in "welfare" prison camps:
        http://www.marshallbrain.com/manna4.htm [marshallbrain.com]

        "Time to turn around Jacob Lewis105. There is construction in the next zone and, for your safety, we cannot allow you to proceed." There were a hundred reasons the robots gave for making you turn around. Construction, blasting, contamination, flash flooding, train derailments, possible thunder storms, animal migrations and so on. They could be quite creative in their reasons. It was all part of their politeness. If you turned around you were fine. If you made any move in any direction other than the one suggested, you were immediately injected and woke up back in your room. I had only tried it twice.

To me, "post-scarcity" means the end of rationing the basics for everybody, where what is defined as "the basics" grows and grows over time. :-) And one of those basics is unrationed access to important information. Ration units went out of use with World War II, you might object. But what is a US Federal Reserve Note (commonly called a fiat dollar) if not essentially a "ration unit"? So, in that sense, to quote Iain Banks, "Money is a sign of poverty", meaning that money's presence in a society indicates the society believes (as part of its mythology) that there is not enough stuff to go around.

ideologically opposed concepts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315445)

Companies would like to produce goods/services without having to pay employees and employees would like to be paid without having to work.

Companies value value. Open source projects value valuelessness (if that is a word). You give your time for free for the greater good of the open source project, not to increase the value of the project for it's owners.

2 very ideologically/psychologically opposed concepts.

I don't see how this can work out in the long run.. (despite the legal ramifications in regards to company ownership and other issues.. insurance etc.. who is liable if your company gets sued etc.. )

if i code something that generates a continuous cash flow.. how does that value get divided..

the open (source?) contractors? will not be owners of the company unless the company offers shares..

work is value is money, I dont have any skills, can i buy into your open source company? can I buy your open source company outright? I have worked, can I exchange my shares into hard cash.. who signs the cheque?

it sounds a little half baked imho. _w_

Steps to profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315461)

1. Assign thyself the task of "bookkeeping"
2. Tunnel the monies to a swiss bank account
3. ???
4. Profit!

Hunter gatherers?? (1)

macxcool (1370409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315507)

If you look to anthropology you will see that we spend the overwhelming part of our history as tribal bands of hunter-gatherers, where nobody really had the means to force others work for them.

If you look back in history you will see (as far back as you can look) huge civilizations that, even though they might have each been organized differently, still had kings and other leaders who could tell others what to do. There were slaves and others who worked while some supervised and benefited from their labour.

Hunter-gatherers, my foot.

Unfair. (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315521)

The system is supposed to ensure fairness by having employees rate each other, but I know how this goes simply by watching people around me, in person and in real life.

Every 'contest' I've ever seen has been about popularity, not efficiency. They guy who sucks up to everyone and buys them beers after work will have the highest pay, while the guy who does his shitty job in silent magnificence will have one of the lowest pays. In addition, everyone in a group will rate their own group members higher than they rate other group's members. This means the biggest group will have the highest average pay as well.

Absolutely none of it will be based on efficiency or profitability.

That is, assuming it's truly 'open' and not just claiming it and then having the owner overrule everything anyhow.

Sounds Great, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27315745)

This sounds great!! ...so how bad are the bathrooms in a company like this? I'm pretty sure cleaning up other people's uh...messes...isn't a "task they find interesting" and if it is, I'm sure the "time they find appropriate" would be pretty close to zero.

Wikipedia (2, Funny)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315849)

Oh boy, a text editor with all the quality and accuracy of a Wikipedia article. I can't wait for the first edit war between two high-ranking programmers.

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