Open Source: The Scientific Model Applied to Programming

Posted on December 1, 2007  Comments (3)

xo-laptop: On the Open-Sourcing of Business – interesting post worth reading, though I disagree with some points:

There is no obligation to “give back” anything, though it often makes sense to participate in the community based on a particular open-source project. However, that is a strategic decision for you to make. Your sole obligation is to respect the license terms.

There is a difference between your sole legal obligation and your sole obligation. I agree legally all you are obliged to do is comply with the legal requirements. That does not mean that is your sole obligation. I don’t see any problem making money in efforts involving open source efforts but I do believe that as that happens an obligation (perhaps not legal but real none-the-less) grows to give back to the community (Google’s summer of code is a great example of giving back). Most open source efforts require that any additions you make to the software be given back to the community (those involved in open souce know this, I add this just for the information of those not familiar with open source practices). Legal obligations are the minimum you can be forced to do, not the only obligations one has. Great quote (emphasis mine):

I think the best is one I have often seen expressed by Linus Torvalds, and it was one of the explanations I gave in a talk to the New York City Linux User Group in a talk in December, 1999.

Simply put, free and open-source software is just the scientific model applied to programming: free sharing of work open collaboration; open publication; peer review; recognition of the best work, with priority given to the first to do a meaningful new piece of work; and so forth. As a programmer, it is the best arena in which to work. There are no secrets; the work must stand on its own.

Another great post on this topic: What Business Can Learn from Open Source.

Related: Open Source for LEGO MindstormsYoung Scientists Design Open-Source Program at NASAOpen-Source BiotechPublishers Continue to Fight Open Access to Science

3 Responses to “Open Source: The Scientific Model Applied to Programming”

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