Image via WikipediaI have often heard that one of the weaknesses of open source is that is that it is an unstable model. Somehow, open source software is supposedly more buggy, not as robust, not enough people supporting it, or too many people involved, etc. And yet, commercial programs drop like flies as the forces of an unbridled lassez-faire tech economy steam-roll through cyberspace like a nuclear tractor load of mixed metaphors and rampant hyperbole. Last week, I had to say goodbye to a favorite tool: Drop.Io. Free file storage, gave an embed code for what ever you stored up there, and a phone number where you could call in and it would record your message and host it as an embeddable MP3 file. Completely brilliant. As an online instructor, this was an extremely useful tool. They were not open source, but I didn't think they had a plan for making money - until Facebook bought them out. And good for them for getting bought out - the service was so good at the ground level right out of the gate that it was not clear how they would have turned it into "premium ware." So the service goes away and the programmers get absorbed by Facebook's production team.
This happened to Angel Learning and is now happening to Elluminate (quel dommage!) and Wimba Voice Tools (good riddance!). Ironically, the most stable model is going to turn out to be foundation-supported open source tools like Sakai. Sakai will continue to grow and change in some really interesting directions: it is one of the few players in online learning that can't get sued or bought out of existence by Blackboard. Goodbye, Drop.Io, you were the James Dean of free file sharing services.