John Adams: Freedom and Open Source
I am watching the new HBO series John Adams – about, as you might expect, the founding of our great country.
There was a scene that got me hooked where Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams were sitting around brainstorming changes to the Declaration of Independence that Jefferson had just penned. As they were going through this great debate about whether or not to declare independence and transform from being a British Colony to an independent nation – they realized before their own eyes the growing significance of what they were doing. Their issue was not just about “taxation without representation”, it was not just about freedom from Great Britain, but it was about a whole new way of life whereby “All men are created equal”. At one point John Adams looked up from the document and said, “this is not just a declaration of our independence, but a declaration of the rights of all men”. It was a poignant moment when they started to realize that they were not creating something – they were part of something much bigger than they thought. It was happening and they are caught up in it.
What came across clearly is what they were doing was right – and that was more important than anything else.
What we are doing with Orange Leap Open is right. I truly believe that it is the right business model for creating, distributing, growing, servicing, and supporting software. It gives organizations the things that have been lacking in the proprietary model, like:
- Control of their technology destiny: When you have a perpetual open license and access to source code you automatically have freedom and control.
- Options to accomplish what they want when they want it: By opening up the software and inviting partners and service providers into the community any organization should be able to solve problems and achieve new goals faster and easier than waiting for a single company who holds all the keys.
- No license fees which means it is accessible to all and poses less risk up front: One of the reasons proprietary software costs so much money is because they have to pay expensive sales people to convince an organization to write a big check up front without ever trying the software.
- Product velocity: In a proprietary software model the company has to save up valuable features for a big release so they can justify license fees. In an open model, you are paying for support and service and therefore it is in everyone’s best interest to release new features as quickly as they are built, checked for quality, and documented.
There are also reasons why open source is a good business model for Orange Leap – the ability to add clients easily (and thus scale the business quickly) and the ability to establish Orange Leap as a technology standard for the nonprofit community are two. But never forget, first and foremost, Orange Leap Open is the right business model because it aligns our business interests directly with our clients. It aligns our company with the nonprofit community. It is about freedom for organizations.
The brilliance of what they did, Declaration and Constitution, is that it transcended their own mistakes. While they called for “all men equal” they did not practice this. Namely, Jefferson himself kept slaves and women were not on equal footing with men. The 2/3’s compromise is an abomination that undermines the very document they wrote. However, the words of the documents they created transcend the evils they themselves helped perpetuate. The system was, thankfully, self-correcting, though it has taken over 200 years for those corrections to occur. The lesson is this: When the system is one oriented to freedom and eOrange Leapment, it can overcome, through the collective and the market, the mistakes inevitably made by individual people based upon their human nature of narrow self-interest and cultural bias. It can even overcome the mistakes of its creators. The genius of open source is that distributed and community development and eOrange Leapment can overcome and vastly improve upon any mistakes or unintended consequences of Orange Leap or any single user’s development and strategic priorities.