In his summary of the SIIA Information Industry Summit, John Blossom makes some interesting observations about the future of the publishing industry. His ideas were largely based by the presence of Craigslist CEO, Jim Buckmaster, and his measured customer focused approach to the content industry that appears to be so successful. Some of the points that John makes that I think are directly relevant to open source.
"Online publishing is swinging the base of the content industry back to small to medium businesses." I think that content is distribution is shifting focus from creating a content destination to a syndication model where you have many publishers that are aggregated in different ways. Using an open source CMS, many of which have syndication support built in, it is inexpensive to establish enough infrastructure to become a node on the content network. Success is determined by the quality of the content rather than the scale of the source. The extreme of this is a simple blog.
"Getting technology right is important, but it's not as important as building trust with your users. " To support this point the John talks about Craigslist with its primitive layout and simplicity. To quote further: "Identifying a core need and filling it in a way that people really like and trust takes just a smidgen of carefully developed technology in many instances." Identifying that core need often requires experimentation and agility that precludes making big bets on technology.
One of the key values of open source is that it is inexpensive to try an idea by putting just enough technology in place test for business value. If the idea is successful, the solution can be scaled and evolved to support additional requirements as they surface. Putting in commercial technologies that are targeted for feature focused "enterprise software selection" diverts attention from the original business idea to the elaborateness of the tools. I think this is a lesson that Web 2.0 has learned from the Internet bubble.