The Future of Open Source Software: Who Knows? Maybe VCs and Data Aggregators?

July 5, 2021

I read some of the write up about Audacity, an audio editor, maybe a wannabe digital audio workstation. One group of write ups foretell the future of this particular open source software as spyware. A good example is “Audacity 3.0 Called Spyware over Data Collection Changes by New Owner.” This is an interesting premise. In some countries, companies even those wearing open source penguins and waving FOSS flags must comply. I suppose the issue is intentional data collection. From a business perspective, there’s money in them thar data elements. And money, not free, is the name of the game in some circles; for example, developers who cut corners in code and construction.

There’s another side to the argument. A reasonable example is “Audacity Is a Poster Child for What Can Be Achieved with Open-Source Software.” The main idea is that if one does not like Audacity, a skilled person can whip up an Audacity variant. (Is the process as simple as creating a Covid variant?) The write up points out:

the first version of Audacity was released in 1999 (at the time the name was different)…Still, while it might look outdated, Audacity doesn’t lack when it comes to features. If you can find them.

High praise?

The author of “Poster Child” opines:

From what I’ve seen over the last two months, Muse Group seems to have its heart in the right place. And if the opposite comes true, there’s always GitHub’s fork button. For now, though, it seems that not only is Audacity in good hands, but that it might be finally getting that design refresh it desperately needs.

The point I carried away from these two write ups is that open source is at an inflection point.

Making money from software is more difficult than it seems. Services, subscribing, consulting, for-fee extras, training, customizing, and platforming are quite different from picking up a box with a disc inside.


  1. Open source software is supposed to give users a way to free themselves from the handcuffs of license agreements. Aren’t the new monetization methods a form of handcuffing?
  2. The value of sucked up data, packaged, and licensed to an aggregator an interesting path forward. Hey, Intuit licensed its small business user data to a quite interesting ConAgra of data collection. What’s good for the proprietary goose, may be very, very good for an open source gander.
  3. Monopolization of software functionality hooked into the ever-secure ever-so-reliable cloud sets the stage for no-code alternatives. Will these be free and open? My hunch: Unlikely.

Net net: Open source, she be changin’.

Stephen E Arnold, July 5, 2021


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