I originally thought, “I’ll only program FreeSoftware.”

But look- I have a tall stack of 3x5 cards. On each card, I’ve written a software invention, a software invention that I love, and want to make real.

It takes a long time to make an invention real, and there are a lot of cards. But I think that if I sell software, then I can put the money that I take, and put it into make more software. I can then OpenSource the first set of software.

I think I can make 10-100x more FreeSoftware, used by more users, if I sell it first, and then OpenSource it, rather than doing it FreeSoftware only from the beginning.

Right now, I work on boring software, and I’m not confident it makes a big difference in the world. But if I work on writing and selling my own software, I think I can make a bigger difference, and lead a vastly happier life.


For the record: I am presently working on IM software using the Jabber network that implements OverHear. I have no idea how to make a business of such a thing; My plan is solely:

  • To implement OverHear by writing an external server component to ejabberd, and adapting gajim for the client.
  • To take out a patent on the OverHear mechanism, if possible.
    • Give the FreeSoftware community blanket license to make use of the patent, without fear of repercussion.
  • To develop an experimental alpha user base. (IE, SaturdayHouse and CommunityWiki and other friends on the Internet.)
  • To get the system to a stable state.
  • To cash in:
    • Exchange stake in a company, for expert guidance and/or initial funding,
      • sell ad-space,
      • sell upgraded versions,
      • installation & support,
    • or license the patent to IM companies,
    • or sell the code to a company,
  • If cashing in is impossible, OpenSource it.

I’ll bet that this plan won’t work, simply because the vast majority of plans fail.

Fortunately, I have a stack of 20+ plans (and growing,) and I should be able to just start work at a new plan, should this not work out.

If someone has a better plan, though, I’d be happy to hear it. It’s much more fun working on projects with others, rather than working on projects alone. And I think they have a higher chance of success.

I think that your idea is exactly the way that patent and copyrights systems were supposed to work, and I like it. I have an impression that OpenSource somehow favorizes the “service” approach to programming: some company has needs, you write/modify software to cover these needs and get paid for it, they don’t care if it’s open source or not and whether it gets reused or not. I mostly work in this model, and it’s not very rewarding, moreover, it punishes any innovation – companies don’t want that. What you describe here encourages innovation, and has a huge advantage over the “default” use of patent and copyright laws: it is context-sensitive.

Then again, you are giving up one of the supposed strengths of free software early on, when it would come the most handy: I mean the peer review of the code. Not that I ever seen this actually work – the programmers doesn’t seem to be interested in looking into the code of new programs, and patches are usually made when they use the program and need to have something fixed for themselves. So I guess you don’t lose that much.

Hmmm…I think it’s possible to create software with an OpenSource license, and yet still create a for-profit business model around such software. Examples of companies that can do this include:

Those are three larger “corporate” examples. On a smaller scale, I think that creating NetworksOfIndependents? (CharlesHandy?’s Shamrock networks of MicroBusinesses?] can help people like us create and grow wealth by tapping into our own networks. In your case, with your Jabber implementation of OverHear, and with your stack of index cards with scads of great ideas, you already have a personal wealth-creation base to work with. You have the knowledge and base concepts. Now, you need to find the markets, and help them find you, and you need to be able to communicate with them, of course.

In my case, for my own business, I have found a market segment in other independents like myself, who can benefit more from supported OpenSource software than from supported proprietary/commercial software. The money that is made is from the hosting and installation, customization, and teaching people how to use it effectively. This is for both desktop and web applications.

One thing about creating a business around OpenSource software is that each of us is unique, and the clients we attract, and the problems they are trying to solve are usually unique. Plus, our ultimate aim is also unique. In my case, for the present, my goal in my business is to become self-sustaining, and enjoy what I do, help others, try to have my actions help improve the world, create gifts that grow in value over time, making meaningful connections with people all over the world, and make a living doing it. I am not focused on accelerated wealth generation exclusively. But other people may be focused on that, yet still wanting to create software that is “Free” in license and in cost. In any case, I would say to look at:

  • what are your unique conditions?
  • What are the unique conditions of your potential markets?
  • What is your ultimate goal, or goals?

Then, I believe, you’ll be able to connect all of your awesome ideas with people who want to pay for them in some way :).

I hope you are right, Sam, I just don’t understand how to do it, practically.

I’m really excited about what I think you’re trying to do. I guess I just don’t see enough of the pieces, really, to understand how I can make it work for myself and others.

As far as– “ultimate goal, or goals,” I’ve got an even larger stack of 3x5 cards that answers that question. (That stack is so big, I’ve had to put it in a large container, since it outgrew even the largest size of clippy thingies.) That stack is ranked and categorized, and continues to grow in size. My plans stack is merely numbered.

I don’t have the time immediately, but I’ll get back here later. This is a very important conversation to me.

Heh, re; Ultimate goals…yes, now I kind of recall you talking about all of those visions during one of our phone chats. We should probably have a phone discussion, with notes and recording, about this, just to save time on typing. I am very interested too, and I think your feedback can help ground and focus a lot of the thinking I’ve been doing on this lately. Migth also be a way to incorporate CommunityWikiBank, or SocialSynergy:PeerInvest type ideas into it, too.

Define external redirect: NetworksOfIndependents MicroBusinesses SugarCRM CharlesHandy

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