Open-Source As A Business Model?
Open-source, as an approach to create software as a commodity, new ways of doing journalism, news reporting and even video production may seem a little too cutting edge to many, but indeed these new experimental ways of working collaboratively and from the roots, show great promise as each day passes. That's why open-source as a business model may soon become more attractive to many, especially those who prioritize meaning and the greater good above a fatter wallet.
Today, Slashdot opened its email-based news digest with an emblematic short introduction to a possible open-source approach in running a business company. While very simple and undetailed on many aspects, the post is representative of a growing trend toward open-source, P2P, collaboration and grassroots cooperation that sees no slowdown.
Photo credit: AndreasG
While some of you may say that there is nothing new and that we have long heard about work cooperatives, the picture appearing from these new online ideas seems to point to a somewhat different vision from the grassroots organizations we have seen emerge so far, and the new common traits pervading this new trend appear to be characterized by self-regulating ability to test and try a much larger number of potential directions without the ideological and pragmatical constraints that traditional business companies need to attend to meet their financial bottom lines.
It may be still early to credit this that follows as the "way" open-source companies may define themselves in the near future, but we surely owe to the growing number of new ideas and experiments in this direction the credit for opening new uncharted grounds without placing economic return as their first and primary interest.
The Original Open Source Company
The idea for this has its roots in the idea of open-source software.
My concept is that the company is run by everyone, decisions about the day to day operations of the company are voted on by one 'n all.
There is no leader, no CEO no boss. Everyone as a group decides what should be done.
As more and more people sign up, the company has a wider available skill base to help it along on its journey as well as more capital to help it along (i.e. contacts in various industries for cheap materials and guidance from all members), if web developers sign up, then we have a few people with the necessary skills to get started and to help design a proper website and perhaps even get some free hosting (beyond what I initially have made here).
The direction the company will take will be completely open to the members. It could be a web development company a software development company a nursing agency or a real estate agency or a charity, we could even sell franchise rights! the sky is the limit!
The real bonus is that if an idea fails its no big deal. We simply take another direction and build up from there. If we get to the stage of having thousands of members then we will surely have contacts in nearly every industry and can expand in limitless directions.
Photo credit: Lorelin Medina
How it will Work:
At the moment its still all new and fresh, a new frontier to explore! Everything can and will be done, nothing is out of reach given the right people.
The company will be as open as possible and will work on a voting basis, everyone can put forward and idea or suggestion on the direction the company will take or improvements to its operations which will then be voted on by everyone; the most popular ideas will be implemented (assuming the funds are there to implement the idea). Essentially it'll be like a real life RPG.
The profits at the end of the day will be divided up amongst everyone.
The open source company will be free from the stigma of bad ethics that are usually associated with business. So unless the companies members are going to be totally evil then everything will be as environmentally and people friendly as can be.(Assuming everyone votes it to be that way!).
How Will it be Funded:
Initially the company will be funded by a monthly subscription by those who sign up. I'm thinking in the are of maybe €25 a month (in the region of $30)
I'm trying to start off from as simple as possible. The first thing the company will need is a few web developers to make a decent webpage and some hosting.
If this seems like the kind of thing you would like to get involved in, drop me a mail at cmulvey [at] compsoc.com and mention where you have read this from. (Italics text added by the editor)
dive into rich stream of comments and opinions to this original piece published today on Slashdot.
check two other great open-source ideas, this time in the online communication space:
Jay Rosen's NewAssignment.net
Steve Rubel's Reinventing The Media Interview