An overworked phrase and a more nuance view of Open Source
So first up, I like James Robertson's blog, Bottomfeeder is great as is James' support for it, I've dropped in on #smalltalk. Great.
Second, when James uses the "Cluestick phrase" and I agree with him , I smile.
But we should remember that there are a lot of bright people around, so when they differ from us it could be an opportunity to understand a new point of view. So we come to this:Smalltalk Tidbits, Industry Rants: "Hand me the cluestick" wherein James lamblasts Eben Moglen of the EFF. I don't think Eben is an idiot, and he has been around for a while now.
It is obvious that someone has to pay for software to be developed , and, yes, a small minority of people pay with their own spare time. Other pay people to work on Open Source, so the question is who does this and why? Again, they are not all idiots.
Can a company get (enough) money from services and consulting? Some can. Does the Open Source software drive some other part of the business (as James' Bottomfeeder might be argued to do)?
What else? Now here is a play that might be of particular interest to the Smalltalk ecosystem, especially if IBM ( a big name if not an active player recently) leaves it: Smalltalk companies co-operate on the parts of Smalltalk where there is no worthwhile competitive advantage. i.e. they use a common base and compete on new more interesting areas. Co-opetition. Painful whilst the common base is constructed, but it could save money for each company. This saved money can now be used to either allow survival if customers leave the arena, or allows investment in new areas to compete with Java, C# et al.
So the fact that companies pay people to work on Open source is neither some new revelation , nor a dirty secret. I see it as a sign of people trying new business models - and some are succeeding.