Friday, June 8, 2007

Money: Principles

I haven't spent much time on this blog talking about vision or theory. Perhaps that's because blogger theorizing reminds me too much of corporate vision statements, or maybe because I've found it less than helpful in other people's writing. However, once you start talking about money and control, you need to figure out what you're not willing to do.

There a few principles which I am unlikely to compromise -- these comprise the constraints around any funding or pricing decisions.
  1. Free and open access to manuscript transcriptions.
    The entire point of the project is to make historical documents more accessible. Neither I nor anyone else running the software should charge people to view the transcriptions.
  2. Encourage altruistic uses.
    If a project like Soldier Studies wanted to host a copy of FromThePage, I can't imagine making them pay for a license. Charging for support, enhancements, or hosting might be a different matter, since those affect my own pocketbook.
    The same would apply to institutional users.
  3. No profit off my work without my consent.
    This may be an entirely self-serving principle, but it's better to go ahead and articulate it, since it will inform my decision-making process whether I like it or not. One of the things I worry about is that I'll release the FromThePage software as open-source, then find that someone — a big genealogy company or a clever 15-year-old — is selling it, competing with whatever hosting service I might run.

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