Open Source Application Ideas

I floated an idea to Mike Loukides a few weeks back of people posting ideas for applications and systems in a public forum – An Open Idea Exchange. Ideas that they would like to see implemented or that they themselves are considering as possibly interesting projects. Maybe there would be a site somewhere called “IdeaExchange” (what an awful name), but the idea is that there is some sort of social site where people communicate and collaborate on a set of open-source “ideas”. Whether the same set of people would be actively involved in creating an open source implementation of an idea, who knows? Maybe the site would be limited to the development of ideas, that’s it. If some entrepreneur wanted to come along and take one of these ideas of the shelf, implement it, making a “bazillion” dollars in the process…. great. The goal of the site isn’t to make money, the goal of the site is to develop ideas for applications in a transparent and open forum. “Open Source Application Ideas”.

A Reaction to “Startup Culture”

It still doesn’t make any sense to you, does it? I’ll take a step back and describe the problem I’ve noticed with “startup culture”. Part of the problem with the “startup culture” in the America is that it revolves around the idea of “protected” intellectual property. Companies and individuals never have an incentive to share an idea with a community and develop ideas in a way that would benefit from the collective input of a group of users. All too often, a great idea is hatched in someone’s garage in Mountain View, this idea is kept secret, maybe the idea is developed a bit and turns into the seed of a company. More often than not, these ideas decay into nothing more than isolated bursts of genius. Maybe an engineer has a great idea for a game changing way to index and search images, but they don’t have enough time to take a few weeks off from work to implement the idea and nothing comes of the idea.

Very rarely, a good idea turns into some poorly named startup with more money than is reasonable and no rational path toward profitability. This is the problem I’m noticing, too many times I’ve seen great ideas in the form of over-hyped, all-but-doomed, TechCrunch-nominated startups and I’ve wondered if there is a better way for a community of users and participants to come up with good ideas for applications.

Open Source Beyond Software

I’d like to find a way to start a community of developers and engineers who have little interest other than seeing good ideas realized without getting distracted by commerce or commercialization. Does anyone else want to see something like this? A place where people can discuss and develop ideas for the applications they want to see implemented?

I understand that this is a Utopian and somewhat idealistic idea, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit around and wait for a collection of poorly named Silicon Valley startups take good ideas and turn them into profitless, proprietary solutions that make someone else a ton of money between the time they get an initial investment of capital and the time to invariably fail.