Asay: It does, but I believe the very structure of open source mitigates against too much fallout from the success of open source. With all the M&A activity, for example, it's to be expected that some will jump into the market for a quick flip on their investment. But open source isn't something you can force. Community doesn't come easily, and turning adoption into paychecks also doesn't come easily. So I think we are seeing and will continue to see a bit of a gold-rush mentality in open source, but the exigencies of the open source business models will keep us from falling into the same rut that the Web 2.0 world has.
The thing I worry most about, however, is related to my prior point and involves attempts to shortcut open source. Many see it as a mere marketing gimmick. They provide a certain amount of open source code as a teaser to get someone to buy into the "real" version of their software. This diminishes the value of open source for customers and, in my experience, is the product of too little confidence in the open source model. I don't want customers to come to believe that open source is a new vendor-delivered parlor trick and lose interest.
IW: What are the next steps needed for open source as a software production methodology to reach the next level?
Asay: If by "the next level" you mean widespread adoption, commercial success, and rampant fear within the proprietary vendors, aren't we already there? Seriously, open source has proved its merits as a commercial and development methodology. The only thing remaining is for a few industry laggards to stop consolidating long enough to realize that they have more to gain from open source than lose, but to gain they must act immediately.
IW: Open source now enjoys a rich and complex history, which is largely the result of trial and error over the years. What would you say have been the open source community's greatest missteps or lessons learned?
Asay: Lesson No. 1: Intellectual property matters. By this I don't mean that the open source world is dismissive of IP claims. Far from it -- we absolutely rely on the integrity of IP in order to thrive.
No, what I mean is that in the open source community, we've been so intent on changing the world and how it buys IP that we've forgotten just how threatening this can be to the incumbent vendors. They've started to sharpen their knives (witness all of Microsoft's FUD), and the counterinsurgency is becoming ever-more sophisticated. Good code alone won't win this fight.
IW: If you could wave your wand and create the perfect software "universe," what would it look like?
Asay: Everything would be licensed under an OSI-approved license, and preferably only a very few: MPL, L/GPL, and Apache. We'd compete on the basis of serving customers, not on our acumen in locking them in.
IW: There has been a fair amount of controversy, competition, and dissent within the various open source communities. Does this lack of agreement damage the long-term goals of open source, or would you like to see more of this?
Asay: We have a long way to go before open source is "perfect." Until we reach that point, I'd like everyone haggling vociferously. It's when we all agree that it will be time to get suspicious.