Money for Nothing, Software for Free


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From the Money for Nothing, Software for Free panel at SXSW 2011. How to make informed software decisions on a budget, and understand the different types of "free" software that are out there.

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  • Poll audience: who works with NPOs? Small businesses? Who just needs software and has no money?
  • Quick intro of each panelist and their backgroundNote: say “Layla Grace Children’s Cancer Research Foundation”
  • People use the words “free software” but mean different things by it. We’re talking about a couple different meanings today.Chickens: By Maqi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons, market: By Free_Markets_Center_from_Regional_Enterprise_Tower.jpg:Conk 9 at en.wikipedia derivative work: GrapedApe [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons, By Pearl Vas from Canada [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons,
  • Imagine you’re at a party and there’s free beer. Awesome, right? Implies there is no cost, no strings attached. No real reason not to take it, and no obligation if you do. This is what your boss/CEO/board wants free software to be like (and maybe you do, too).
  • Instead, imagine someone offers you a litter of free kittens. You’re not thinking too clearly, and you end up taking them home. Kittens are cute and make people happy. Even a “free” kitten costs money to feed, pay vet bills. They also shred furniture, and get into trouble. Kittens are a lot of responsibility. This is what most software (free or otherwise) is actually like. “Free as in kittens” phrase possibly coined by Karen Schneider, “Free Range Librarian”
  • Open source is compared to free speech This type of free is about ownership, not cost Should this factor into your decisions? We’ll find out.
  • When you’re choosing a piece of software, you need to weigh the non-monetary costs Be realistic about your needs and resources What types of costs can you afford? Costs are about choices – by choosing a different piece of software, you trade some costs for others
  • Examples: Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter… things we all use Also shareware/freeware Benefits of free: can be good source of basic features if your needs are simple good way to get started Challenges: limited room to grow no control
  • Define open source – a philosophy about code In essence, open source gives you control (if you know how to use it). More like “Free as in speech” than beer or kittens Geeks tend to have high ideals for open source In some sense it is objectively “good” – your management may have heard that it’s “good” but not understand what it
  • Non-coders need to know that some OSS are more user-friendly than others. E.g. WordPress requires almost no technical expertise. Others can’t even be installed without a developer. Almost all can be customized, any way you want – but this does require a developer You own your data and your code. Open source depends on users, not owners, to make it grow. Ask: Do you have the skills in-house? If not, what will it take to maintain it?
  • Open source often benefits from hosting No need to maintain the tool yourself Not always free Give up some control for ease of use
  • - Why DW?
  • Money for Nothing, Software for Free

    1. 1.
    2. 2. Ryan Marsh<br />President, Layla Grace Foundation<br />@laylagrace<br />heather gardner-madras<br />gardner-madras | strategic creative<br />Jeff Herron<br />VP, Beaconfire Consulting<br />@beaconfire<br />Mark Jaquith<br />Covered Web Services<br />@markjaquith<br />Chris Lundberg<br />CEO, Salsa Labs<br />@salsalabs<br />
    3. 3. Free means lots of things<br />Free the Prisoners<br />Free Range<br />Free Market<br />Smoke-Free<br />What do WE mean?<br />
    4. 4. Free beer!<br />
    5. 5. Free kittens!<br />(Aren’t they cute?)<br />
    6. 6. Free speech<br />
    7. 7. Allsoftware has a cost<br />Unreliability<br />Staff time<br />Maintenance<br />Limitations<br />Support <br />No exceptions<br />
    8. 8. Free = No Money<br />
    9. 9. Open Source…<br />…is serious stuff<br />
    10. 10. You can navigate Open Source<br />(but it helps if you speak code)<br />
    11. 11. Hands-off: Hosted Source<br />
    12. 12. Let’s dig in!<br />
    13. 13.
    14. 14. “Open Source”<br />Share Alike<br />Attribution<br />Commercial Use<br />Redistribution<br />View Source<br />Derivatives Allowed<br />No Approval<br />Public Domain<br />GPL<br />LGPL<br />Apache<br />BSD<br />CreativeCommons<br /> BY-NC-ND<br />CreativeCommons<br /> BY-NC-SA<br />Microsoft Reciprocol License<br />
    15. 15. If you want more<br />Check out:<br /><br />Or find us at:<br />The Beacon Lounge<br />(across the hall)<br />