Tom Sawyer

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I may have to start refering to certain business models as “The Tom Sawyer Business Model.” Refering to Tim O’Reilly:

“Quinn nails it. Tom Sawyer with a network connection and a conference budget. (Hat tip to Cory.)” — Tim Oren

So what did Quinn write?

…”if tim really wanted a jet car, he’d throw a conference, invite some jet car enthusiasts and talk about how great it would be to have a jet car and then sit back and wait for someone to build him a jet car. it’s like the peter lynch investing philosophy in reverse: instead of investing in the things you use everyday, get other people to invest in the things you wish you had everyday.” … “you know what makes your conferences good, tim? we all act like 13 year olds. show me, make me care, and when you do, i’ll care so much, and i’ll believe that i can revolutionize the field.” …

The story I assume Tim’s refering to is well worth reading in the original (this web thing is pretty cool ain’t it?). Mark Twain was a genius, but also an enthusiast of the last golden age and lost his shirt as a venture capitalist.

I once listened to the head of Microsoft’s open source program opine that developers “Just want to have fun.” At which point you really need to go listen to Blondie’s “Girls just want to have fun”, but record companies are hording that so I can’t point you to the mp3. My thought at the time was – golly the subtext of developers as girls is like totally on message dude.

But yes, there are a slew of buisness models that work by creating a surface were contributors rondevous and leave behind value. Fly paper if you will.

Open source is one of these. The wise open source operative spends a lot of time mimicing the Tom Sawyer role model. But unlike some pseudo open communities, we at least we carefully craft a license that makes it clear that your contributions remain part of the common wealth.

It’s a trust thing. “Innocence lost” and all that.

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