The Web 4.0 vision for Open Source extends far beyond merely making open source projects economically viable — it is about creating an Open Source Ecosystem that could rival and surpass anything built on the proprietary software business model.
We previously discussed how Web 4.0 works and explained why an economic system that is based on abundance (ie. Web 4.0) works much better for digital content than a scarcity-based economic system. Now we can take a look at how this applies to Open Source.
Web 4.0 Business Mode for Open Source
The business model for Open Source projects in the Web 4.0 Ecosystem is as follows: the more value the project provides to users (and to the ecosystem as a whole) the more valuable the project will be economically — it is that simple!
The value of the project — in WEB4 Tokens — is measured like any other digital content in the Web 4.0 Ecosystem: it is the product of the project’s Credibility Score (ie. how well the actual code reflects what the project claims to provide) and the project’s Importance Score (ie. the relative importance of the project in the system).
In other words, the more clearly the code reflects the stated purpose of the project, and the more the project actually contributes to the lives of its users, the more money the developers of the projects will make (for an in-depth analysis for how Web 4.0 works see the White Paper).
Let us then contrast the Scarcity Framework used by proprietary software companies to Web 4.0's Abundance Framework:
The Scarcity Framework
Unlike in the Web 4.0 framework — where more value for users directly translates to more money to developers — the way to increase profitability for proprietary software companies is only tangentially related to adding value for users.
For proprietary software, the main driver of value for users is competition: if there is intense competition for a particular user-base you can expect innovation and added value to users in that space (just think if this is true for the software you use — consider how much competition there is in the space and whether the software changed much over the years — you’d see a pretty strong correlation).
Without intense competition, software companies focus on user acquisition, extracting greater profit from existing users, or creating various revenue streams: selling user data, creating tiered access to features, paid subscription, and so on — different methods to extract money from the user that add little to user experience.
Consider also how much companies need to spend on advertising, protecting intellectual property (both legally and programmatically), paying overhead to management, dividends to shareholders, etc. — more money that is not invested in improving user experience.
It is therefore evident that the formula for proprietary software would look something like this: invest the minimum required in user experience to generate the most profit.
Web 4.0's Abundance Framework
The Web 4.0 framework creates a powerful alignment of interests between the developers of the open source project and its users. It allows developers — above all else — to focus on user experience and on empowering users (to be more productive, more creative, relaxed, and so on).
In the Web 4.0 framework developers make money directly from adding value to the ecosystem. If users want more features or add-ons, better integration with other tools, improved workflow, and so on, developers benefit from creating such tools. The features that benefit users the most will be developers’ top priority, since those will help developers make the most money.
A New Organization Structure
Since Web 4.0 is a decentralized Ecosystem, developers in the system are independent agents who make money through the system itself — not from any person or corporation. Any developer can work on any project — and on any part of a project — at any time. Any developer can also collaborate with others on any project (where each developer is compensated according to their contribution).
This new organization structure allows developers to work on the projects they’re most interested in, develop the skills they need — all while enjoying the lifestyle they desire. The system thus empowers developers to realize their potential — while contributing the most they can to better the lives of others.
Emergent Properties of Web 4.0
If the Web 2.0 framework was based on manipulating user attention to maximize ad revenue, and the proprietary software framework created an extreme fragmentation of the user experience, the Web 4.0 framework is based on creating a holistic experience to empower users — and to empower as many people as possible.
User empowerment are not mere buzzwords in the Web 4.0 framework. Since Web 4.0’s economics are based on abundance, the Ecosystem benefits from the contribution of each and every individual — the greater the number of people the ecosystem can empower, and the more knowledge and skills they have, the more everyone in the ecosystem benefits.
This incentivizes developers to create tools and applications that empower and educate, and tailor those to the specific needs of disadvantaged individuals, communities, and regions around the world. It also incentivizes developers to create tools that make the whole system accessible — to everyone.
Holistic User Experience
Unlike the extreme fragmentation in proprietary software (for reference, just count the number of apps on the average smartphone — then consider how poorly these generally communicate with each other), Web 4.0 allows the possibility of creating an integrated user experience. What exactly does this mean?
Given that developers’ goal in Web 4.0 is user empowerment, this goal should not be limited in scope to the inner-workings of applications but rather should also apply to the totality of the user’s digital experience. User empowerment thus means making the user experience as intuitive, effortless, and enjoyable as possible in every aspect.
Developers in the Web 4.0 Ecosystem will need to refocus from the app itself to the tasks users are engaged in. They would need to both provide powerful applications to users, and deeply integrate these apps with other apps, tools and resources — as well as with the operating system as a whole — so that users can get the most out of their experience for any task they are engaged in.
This vision of user empowerment — and of empowering as many people as possible — is only possible with open source and with a framework such as Web 4.0. This is the future we’re building.