What Makes Open Source Tick

In a recent article on his blog, about the nature of open source software, Ian Bickling does a good job on explaining some of the main reasons why Scrapy exists today.

To quote a few:

Underneath most open source work there is a passion for the craft itself. This is what leads to a certain kind of quality that is not the norm in closed source software. It’s not necessarily less bugs or more features, but a pride in the expression itself. A sense of aesthetic that applies to even the individual lines of software, not just to the functionality produced. This kind of aesthetic defies scheduling and relies on personal motivation. As open source programmers we are not first concerned with how a task fits into institutions, how a task can be directed by a hierarchy or an authority, or even how the task can be directed by economics. The tasks that we take on are motivated by aesthetic, by personal excitement and drive.
But I want to get back to individuals. How things are created is not that someone determines a set of priorities, lays them out, then people work on implementation based on those priorities. That of course is how things typically work at a company, as an employee. But open source software and open source projects are created because an individual looks at the world and sees an opportunity to create something they think should exist.

The main point of the article is that licenses are becoming more and more irrelevant in the definition of open source, which is something I've been saying [spanish post] for a while now. The GPL was useful at some point, when the world didn't yet understand the benefits of open source, and to fight a cancer called "lawyers". But I hope some day it will be remembered as a tool which was very useful once, but that is no longer needed.

Otherwise, why do you think Facebook has released most of the software that powers his platform as open source?. Did you think someone threatened them with GPL lawsuits?. Or why Microsoft has recently launched its own open source foundation?. I guess it's a bit of "if you can't beat them, join them" for Microsoft, but Microsoft has long since become a very boring company. The Facebook example is much more interesting and illustrative.