Here you are an English translation of what Gabi posted two days ago. He told us about Business and Solidarity, two words that are not commonly matched together. I hope you enjoy the translation, I’ve done my best to keep the meaning of his post and I apologize for any misunderstanding.
A business model where solidarity and collaboration constitute fundamental values. This is one of the ideas that repeats the gvSIG team. Surely, people will think this is just a statement for social marketing. Others may just think that we are authentic naives, because as everyone knows, it is only needed to watch TV or going outside in order to know that it is imposible to match together Business and Solidarity. Business is rivalry and being better than others, while Solidarity is something left for oneself’s consciousness.
We want to talk about business, not just about “making money” as a result of a contract. The business concept is associated to the existence of trade agreements, of course, but involves more things.
Talking about business is talking about continuity. The business takes place in a scenario where trade agreements are projected on a greater time horizon than a simple buy and sale agreement.
Talking about business means to talk about a relationship that extends over time, and for this, there must be trust. Trust between the parties in the sense of respecting the agreements and that this occurs on a konwn and familiar environment for all stakeholders.
In the proprietary software model, the scenario is simple. The asymmetry between the holders of knowledge and the ones that can only be users of the technology allows a well known scenario where the shots can only be called by the former.
If we speak of free software, which is in what we are involved, the scenario is totally different. There is no potential nor legal limitation to the access of knowledge by any of the possible stakeholders in the formalization of economic or commercial agreements. All of them are free to set their business model.
We must be aware that in the free software model we face totally different business conditions. We should not therefore being surprised about the idea that the same values of the classical model, such as rivalry and speculation with the acquired knowledge, are not valid in this new model.
Nor should it surprise us that the same values that act as a driver in the development of free software in the technical-scientific collaboration field between different groups thanks to the open access to existing information, were also valid when it comes to economy.
Take the case otherwise. Imagine several companies, SMEs ICT around a model based on free software but where one or more of them want to act or place conditions that stay away from the values of free software. Does anyone see it possible to build a framework of trust in these conditions? “I do not go out from proprietary software model in order to fall back into the same trap” will think more than one of the companies that really want to bet for a model of free and open source software.
That is why we say that a business model based on free and open source software will be possible only from the values of cooperation and solidarity, otherwise we will fail to implement new ideas through the classical schemes. One thing is to work with free software and other thing really different is to adopt its philosophy.
I do not think it’s something easy to do, surely it’s much easier to write it than to get it, but not because of that we must stop on analyzing and reflecting on these issues.
The dominant discourse will remain, at least for long, which proclaims that business and solidarity is just a story for children, and that usually comes from people that do not know what life is.
Although the years keep passing, some people keep telling us that we say this things because we are Young? Beside that, let’s continue reflecting about the conservative speech that those people spread. What model they want sell to us? A model of precarious and full of difficulties SMEs? Who make this speech to us? Are they the ideologues of the current state of insecurity in which we find? Those who are silent when the large consultants make predatory Dumping ,  in order to keep out of the market the small ones?
They will also tell us that the problem has to do with size. That a concentration of capital is needed in order to ensure a certain minimum size. That the proliferation of micro enterprises is not a good model, and that is better that many of these micro enterprises join together to increase the size mentioned.
And I agree, but reaching such agreements or formalize such partnerships should not go coupled to the resignation of that values. If you want to work around free and open source software, it will be better to do it in tune to this new model of trust, cooperation and solidarity.
A new business ethics is not only possible, but necessary for the development of this new model.
And above all, try to work on what you believe and on that you want. No one has the moral nor scientific authority to tell you that your dreams are chimeras.