Open Source Everywhere

Wired got an excellent article on how Open Source principles can be applied to just about anything:

It’s an intriguing read, I especially find it interesting how the author draws parallells to the medicine research-and-development, and shows how Open Source can very well be a win-win situation for everyone. It also clearly shows that Open Source is a model that has come to stay, and can be applied not only within the world of software, but anywhere in the world of science. =)

Anyhow, if you got nothing better to do, read it. It might give some food for thought at the very least…

And the next person to flame me for mentioning the word “Open Source” is a friggen moron. =P

GOD DAMN YOU FOR SAYING OPEN SOURCE! _FUSJpoawuy74f wurp9sd pyweapruaew p97329027 40937)($&#@)($&@#()$&@# ()DURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

But in all seriousness, I do believe that open source is a good thing (from what little I know about computers).

And I am definately MORE than for this “Think Cycle” thing.

No matter how much you preach to the choir, I still can’t see Open Source as a viable business method, companies exist to make profit, so yes, SOME things they could develop as open source, just not everything.

On the contrary, open source is a fantastic business model, what company wouldn’t be glad to get the software they need for virtually nothing. Of course there are inherent problems with the concept, 10,000 contributors means 10,000 people who could have made a mistake in the code and debugging someone else’s mistakes in the context of a reasonably complex program is much harder than correcting your own, not only do you have to find the mistake, but you need to at least puzzle through that person’s personal logic. On top of that you need to consider that one coder’s programming style, while equally valid and efficient, might be incompatible with another coder. However these potential problems aside open source has the same problem as off the shelf software, it might not be exactly what you need so you might need to get a special custom version of it made. You might say that doing so is easy since it’s open source, and I agree, but the concept of open source is sharing, and how many companies do you know who will pay to get a custom version of a software created and then release it to their competitors at no charge? That doesn’t make much business sense to me.

Naturally Open Source isn’t a good business model by the “Classic” way of looking at things - But if I may quote the article (Oh, and the article is 5 pages long, so it’ll take some time to read through);

In 2003, the method is proving to be as broadly effective - and, yes, as revolutionary - a means of production as the assembly line was a century ago.

This quote merely states the article’s intent - To show that Open Source can indeed be effective when applied in the correct way.

If the ideas behind it are so familiar and simple, why has open source only now become such a powerful force? Two reasons: the rise of the Internet and the excesses of intellectual property.

How it’s even possible; The thoughts about Open Source has been around since the days of Isaac Newton, but it’s only since we got the Internet that these ideas has been able to really take off. Something that Linux, Apache and other software projects are real world proofs of.

We are at a convergent moment, when a philosophy, a strategy, and a technology have aligned to unleash great innovation. Open source is powerful because it’s an alternative to the status quo, another way to produce things or solve problems. And in many cases, it’s a better way. Better because current methods are not fast enough, not ambitious enough, or don’t take advantage of our collective creative potential.

Why Open Source is so powerful; I think the quote speaks for itself.

[b]Corporations have been part of the problem for Jefferson, but they’re also part of the solution. Open source offers biotech companies a cheaper way to do research. “The corporations have been locked in a zero-sum game,” Jefferson says. “It costs them a fortune to buy and lock up a product or a technology. And if they don’t, a competitor will get it and they’ll have no access to it. So it’s a real change in the status quo we’re proposing. We’re reducing the obstacles for everybody so big companies won’t view this as antithetical to their own progress.”

Jefferson is onto something. Open source is often framed as an attack on the corporate world at large. But in fact, the open source approach can be a boon for companies. Licensing from a trusted collaborative project saves money and leaves the technology open to further development. By showing corporations that a closed, defensive approach to intellectual property can be less efficient than liberal licensing, Cambia and a few other open source efforts are leading the way to the mainstream.[/b]

A long quote, but it certainly shows why corporations would even want to consider this; It saves them money and becomes a win-win situation for everyone.

Of course, Open Source isn’t great for everything; there are places where it’s better to stick with traditional methods. But I dare to say that in fields such as Science, using Open Source practices makes sense, and gives benefits for everyone. Companies doesn’t have to spend billions on research and patents, and in return will get feedback and other, perhaps better/more sophisticated solutions handed to them - for free. Researchers benefit, because they can build on the collaborative work of others. But most important of all, everyone else benefits because they’ll get solutions way faster than if we stick by the current method. We’re talking billions of dollars saved here which can be crammed into some other area, like production or distribution, which means more people gets the product faster and to a lower cost.

It is, simply put, win-win for everyone. Seen? =)