What does every dedicated KDE hacker dream of? Well, besides unlimited amounts of beer, fullfilling relationships with people of the sex of their choice and world peace... working on KDE fulltime, of course!
OK, so maybe I overstate the case a bit much, but it probably ranks up there in the top 10 for a lot of us. It's something that's been on my mind for a while now, haunting me in my waking sleep as such things tend to.
There's the obvious "build a consulting company!" answer, but that means I have to deal with client's needs and this is supposed to be a dream not some reality-drenched compromise of practicalities. Besides, that's pretty much already what I do, though most of my contracts aren't KDE related (yet?).
I've also thought about the concepts others have put forward such as allowing people to put bounties on bugs and new features. I've thought about how one could manage such a thing and while interesting and potentially doable, I see so many annoyances. Once again, I'd have to bend to the will of others to see any remuneration and then one would have to deal with collecting the rewards. Seeing as the average bounty would likely be less than fifty bucks, that'd be a lot of collecting. And I can just imagine the squabbles and deadbeatery that would ensue on occassion. Nah, not worth it.
Well, I was watching a flick that happened to have one of my all time favourite actresses in it: Tilda Swinton. Which reminded me of one of my all time favourite movies: Orlando (which has Tilda in it, of course). In that movie she (who's a he at that point in the screenplay) sponsers a poet. To him (her) it's a pittance, but to the poet (who holds Orlando in complete contempt) it's something of a small fortune. Especially since he gets to write poetry all day and be able to afford to eat.
In by-gone eras, people would actually commission artwork and provide regular allowances to people who were hunting down the elusive beasts of science and philosophy. Perhaps this is yet another potential possible fulfillment mechanism for the Dream?
Currently we most often rely on copmanies to do this, with the idea that they can both afford it and rationalize it with their business (read: profit) agendas. There's nothing wrong with that, but perhaps we're being a little shortsighted thinking that companies are the only ones who can, should and will do this.
I'm now thinking about, in my on-again-off-again way, about how such a system may work. People like Andras Mantia already have found a way to make this work, through the likes of Eric Lafoon and his determined goodness. Of course, not everyone can afford to pop a person on the payroll. But I bet a lot of people could afford to pop someone on the payroll for a few hours every month.
I really should be working on KControl and TOM instead of this ramblingness. Instead I'll likely be fixing ya another usability problem in kicker's applet handle menus first. Ah, progress! (If you watch Orlando, you'll get the inside joke there.)