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Years ago, techies had different phrases to describe the explosive growth of computing software and networking. The “Unix development model” became “the Internet development model”, as software was deployed first and made to work in successive patches and iterations. It was exciting times — a “killer app” could launch a technology, especially if it supported the “network effect” (it was useful even if only a few people were using it, and only became more useful as more people took it up).

It seems to me that those phrases fail to do justice to the effort and ecosystem that allowed technologies like the Internet to take off and continue on a growth curve for decades.

As Open Source Software (OSS) is increasingly important to commercial endeavours, and companies worry about becoming heavily dependent on something that becomes abandonware, I’d like to offer three things to look for in technology/systems if you want to see them take off and last beyond initial specs.

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