Whilst showing a school the benefits of Koha today, I was asked “if it’s free, who pays to develop it”. A good question.
I am so used to the idea of free and open source software that I sometimes forget how ‘strange’ the concept can be to some people.
A real life example might show that it is not ‘strange’ at all;
We have a scenic reserve in our community, it is ‘owned’ by the Dept of Conservation but recently the community has taken a real interest in it. There have been a number of working bees where many people turn up to help weed, plant or simply support those that are doing the work. None of these people ‘own’ the reserve or receive payment for their work but are happy to give their time and effort for something that benefits the wider community. I bet those volunteers would say they feel they have a stake in the reserve and have a feeling ownership as well as pride in their achievements. They also enjoy the benefits that their labour adds to the reserve.
It is the same for free and open source software. It may not be as tangible as a scenic reserve but the principle is the same. For many people a sense of satisfaction can arise from doing something that benefits others.