Gittip founder Chad Whitacre participated in an open call with 37signals partner and Ruby on Rails founder David Heinemeier Hansson today. The call came about after David wrote a blog post three weeks ago, “The perils of mixing open source and money.” When he was subsequently introduced to Gittip, it kicked off a lengthy Twitter conversation that resulted in a response from Chad, followed by an invitation from David “to have a longer discussion about this in person at some point.” Thomas Fuchs kicked off another round of conversation 10 days ago, followed by a third round yesterday.
The basic topic of the conversation is how crowdfunding affects open-source. Open-source (like journalism) has achieved a delicate balance, where the parties involved know what the rules are, where the money stops and the open-source love (or the journalistic integrity) begins. This boundary is messy at times, but it’s been more or less thoroughly explored and is well-understood by those involved. Crowdfunding upsets this stasis. Does crowdfunding corrupt open-source by introducing extrinsic motivation? Does it crowd out the intrinsic motivation that lies at the heart of open-source?
Here is the video of the call: