Subject: Re: Definition of an FSB
From: Rich Bodo <rsb@ostel.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 04:01:24 -0800 (PST)


> Anyone who connects to the Internet is reliant on Free or Open Source
> Software.

Good.  Let's start here.  How to measure reliance.  The liquor store
down the street from me is no more reliant on the internet than the
farmers market.  I, OTOH, could not do business without the free
software my company maintains.  I consider my company, therefore, to
be more reliant on free software than the Mtn. View farmers market.
Now, the people who run those two other businesses might use the
internet to pay their bills or to advertise or for entertainment.  The
existence of free software is beneficial to them, as it is to most
people.  However, I consider any business which relies on OSS that is
installed on it's systems to carry out it's day to day operations to
be more reliant on free software than businesses who derive only
incidental benefits.  I further consider any business who relies on
free software as an irreplacable component of their product to be more
reliant on free software than businesses who rely on free software
only for their operations.  It's a continuum, there are a lot more
level, and there will be exceptions, but that's how I measure it.

Some other characteristic could turn out to be much more useful than
those I stated.  I just divided up the matrix I made based on the
various usages of FSB on this list (primarily Tim's recent post, but I
have read almost all of the archives).  Now, there are a number of
other ways we could divide up the business.  For instance, who of us
must *develop* free software to stay in business.  Small segment.

Here's the main point.  A new business community has evolved.
Membership in this new business community is no less nebulous than
membership in, say, the "entertainment business".  The terms that
define segments of this new business community will be just as useful
to it's members as the corresponding language used to describe any
other community.  I feel the core characteristics of a community are
based on it's needs and interests and what it's members participate in.
It is these characteristics that will define our community and our
sub-communities.

People like Tim and Larry have done a lot more talkin about this than
me and probably have their own little stable of lingo.

-Rich

Rich Bodo | rsb@ostel.com | 650-964-4678