Off the back of the final point that I made in the Reading Group today, that so much of the web is maintained by open source projects, normally overseen by a small number of people I wonder how difficult it would be to create a linkage between these groups to understand the true power that they possess.
It’s very possible that here I’m actually being quite pigheaded, and that a lot of these groups/individuals are aware of the power they hold. But I reckon that if you tied together maybe 5-10 pivotal projects they could really Just Stop Oil the web in a big way.
This page sheds some light on the immensity of the unpaid labour that upholds modern software. Especially the Ford Foundation document.
Stephen Henson, arguably the chief developer behind OpenSSL, was shown to receive a salary about a fifth of the salary of Steve Marquess, a defense contractor – despite Henson’s (supposedly) strong programming ability. The fact that OpenSSL was developed and maintained in spite of such poor remuneration is likely not exceptional but widespread.
Were those in a position similar to Henson united, they might be able to compel fundamental alterations in how the internet is structured.
Big tech and an abusive misunderstanding of free and open source software practices have led us to believe that software production, server maintenance and on-line services should be free as in gratis. However there is no such things as a free lunch and software does not exist in a vacuum. If we want sustainable alternatives and a diverse cultural sector, these alternatives and the humans behind them, need to be supported.
Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding
It is wild how much labour goes in which is essentially for the love of the game, and how much profit is extracted out the other end. That OpenCollective is an interesting solution, I guess one issue is that these dependencies can be quite nested, and so not all those who rely upon this stuff even know…