While I am looking at the mere 7 billable hours for the whole week, I can't help wondering why I enjoy developing open source software so much. A quick recap of the week reveals: making the distribution packages and testing the upgrade scripts for the new release of Mango Blog; fixing last minutes bugs encountered while testing the packages; answering questions in Mango's forums; making a new example and writing a tutorial for the soon-to-be-released Mate framework; writing missing documentation for Mate; working on the cf.Objective() presentation about Mate; preparing the audio files for the ColdFusion Weekly roundtable about Flex frameworks... Mmmh... Can you spot the pattern here? Most of my time was spent working on personal, open source projects.
I stopped counting hours spent on Mango Blog long ago, to be more exact, in March 2006. By that time I had already spent over 150 hours. And I can tell you that amount has multiplied many times by now. At my usual hourly rate, that would easily go way beyond $50,000. Could I have used that time on client work? I could've, and I would have $50,000 more in my bank account. Who paid for that? I did. With my time, energy and even money that went into them (FillColors t-shirts and postcards, for example).
I still don't know what the business model for open source is, if there is one. Or maybe there shouldn't be one and the open source community should be composed of people willing to volunteer their time to contribute to the future of mankind. And I am as guilty as anybody else, since I use many open source software that I've never paid for. The open-source-it-and-sell-support model doesn't make sense to me (at least as an individual). You spent thousands of hours developing your product so that at the end, you can sell support hours. I don't see the point, since I could sell the same hours, but doing development instead of support for the same amount of money —or more— without having to invest those thousands of hours in advance.
The problem is that I enjoy it and I can't find enough hours in the day to work on my personal projects. In the weekdays, I stay late at the office or go home to find myself working on them until midnight. In the weekends, I choose to stare at my computer —in my Cave— rather than sunbathing at the beautiful Laguna Beach, choices that don't seem to be helping lowering my stress level.
Maybe it is all about personality. It looks like I am a geek. Normal conversation with your spouse should be: "Honey, would you fix our car's oil leak?" But my normal conversation with Nahuel goes more like: "Honey, would you fix the memory leak that the listeners are causing in the Flex app?." I think this passion is in the borderline of addiction: I can't get enough of it, I get mad when I don't do it and I am starting to think it is impacting my finances.
Maybe it is all about recognition. You see, I am not as beautiful nor talented as Cate Blanchett, I can't sing or dance and I don't have an IQ that will let me to come up with a physics theory that will get me a Novel Prize. So I am simply satisfied by people telling me: "Laura, thank you so much for your help on that piece of code", or that people recognize us in conferences as the "AsFusion guys".