To many, open source is black and white — software is either open or not. Jack Wallen sees the new world order in shades of gray and begs the open source community to be more open in their attitude.
I wanted so badly to not use that title — but honestly, it fits. I’ve been thinking a lot lately on exactly what it means to be open source. I only moments ago read an interview of one of the founders of the Free Software Foundation and was reminded of the phrase:
Everything in moderation.
Up until recently, there have been three levels of open source users:
- Those that will not use anything until it is 100% open
- Those that will use anything, so long as it gets the job done
- Those that will not use open source, regardless
Like so many things, it is that middle sector that seems to be winning out. But even within that group, there are shades and variations. And, to make matters more interesting, there are developers and businesses who are starting not only to see and reap the benefits of that gray area, they are starting to drive it forward. This means the open source community might well have to become a bit more open to a few new shades in their world.
Let me explain.
- Steam is close to being released unto the world.
- The auto industry is proclaiming the release of the first “open source” car.
- Social networking APIs are flying rampant across the internet.
- Governments across the globe are trying to figure out how to save money.
- Businesses are adopting open source at blinding speeds.
- The Android platform is arriving as a front-runner in the M2M space.
What do all of these things have in common? On varying levels — open source. What is, however, becoming abundantly clear is that the majority of the prime movers aren’t purists — they need to mix and match metaphors and technologies to create the best solution for the problem at hand. This means some will be using open source in one area and closed source in another. It also means there will be situations where open and closed source technologies must function together to create a seamless whole.
And that, my friends, is the real and true rub. That rub, however, rubs some of the open source community in the wrong way. To those that have issue with amalgams, I have this to say:
It’s 2013 — time to realize “World Domination” will never happen for any one technology company (that is, until the Singularity hits).