Employee Owned Source Code versus Open Source

I don't understand why more companies and individuals aren't embracing employee owned source code. To me this is just bizarre, as though I had woken up one morning to discover I'd invented the grilled cheese sandwich, but when I Googled grilled cheese sandwhich that phrase never came up.

So how come more of you aren't eating grilled cheese sandwiches? Well, OK, in the case of real grilled cheese sandwiches I think you're pretty much on track, but as far as I know I'm the only person writing about employee owned source code.

What's especially weird about this is that many of you are already working for free on Open Source projects.

Or mabybe it's not so weird. As an occasional reader of Noam Chomsky, I have come to admire capitalism for the way it has won the ideological war in the United States withouth firing a shot. As it plays out in software, many of us believe there are exactly two choices. We can work someone else's dream of software they can sell to someone else, as a wage slave. When we go home at night, we can work on open source. Unlike the wage slavery of our day jobs, open source is a kind of fun self-indentured-servitude where you get to pick exactly where in the field you'll stoop to pick someone else's cotton. I suppose this is because no-one prevents you from singing while you do it, and it looks good on your cotton picking resume.

I'm not the first person to talk about this. See Why Github is not your CV and The Ethics of Unpaid Labor and the OSS Community. In a twist that surely would make Chomsky proud, it turns out the slaves in this case are all white men. It's not your grandfather's demographic to be sure.

To me, the completely obvious grilled cheese sandwhich idea of employee owned software is that instead of working for free in someone else's cotton fields, I'll take some of the cotton plants that those open source guys are giving away of free and go off and try to start my own meager little plot, with the goal of selling an application.

Yes, it's not as sexy as framework development. So far, no one's beating down my door to collaborate. I just crossed the 100-hour mark, so that's 100 shares of equity in what according to the roadmap needs to be about 2000 shares. So I'm .5% vested already. Woot!

I'm not part of a community. I am, however, the proud owner of a small but growing retirement plan, out here in the woods with my grilled cheese sandwich and my little seedlings.


Written by John Lockwood in misc on Sat 07 November 2015. Tags: Employee Owned Source Code,