: if you're going to call yourself open, then "we need to lay out our definition of open in clear terms that we can all understand and support
." Rosenberg goes on:We use tens of millions of lines of open source code to run our products. We also give back: we are the largest open source contributor in the world, contributing over 800 projects that total over 20 million lines of code to open source, with four projects (Chrome, Android, Chrome OS, and Google Web Toolkit) of over a million lines of code each. We have teams that work to support Mozilla and Apache, and an open source project hosting service (code.google.com/hosting) that hosts over 250,000 projects. These activities not only ensure that others can help us build the best products, they also mean that others can use our software as a base for their own products if we fail to innovate adequately.
There's also this:When we open source our code we use standard, open Apache 2.0 licensing, which means we don't control the code. Others can take our open source code, modify it, close it up and ship it as their own. Android is a classic example of this, as several OEMs have already taken the code and done great things with it. There are risks to this approach, however, as the software can fragment into different branches which don't work well together (remember how Unix for workstations devolved into various flavors — Apollo, Sun, HP, etc.). This is something we are working hard to avoid with Android.
I knew that Google used the Apache license, but I hadn't realized that it had become the "official standard" for the company in this way. That's very interesting in the context of the discussions swirling around whether the GNU GPL is a good or bad licence for companies that want to offer open source products and also make money. As Google notes, the Apache license has the big advantage for those outside the company that anyone can take the code and build on it as they wish, whereas the GNU GPL gives a disproportionate advantage to the company that owns the copyright. Rosenberg goes on to talk about how trust is an "important currency online, so to build it we adhere to three principles of open information: value, transparency, and control."
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However, I disagree with Wilcox at the start when he writes: Google's free business model... has hugely disrupted news and other information services.
Joe shouldn't blame Google for doing what it does: index internet content. That newspapers -- like music -- can't figure out how to make money in this digital age when they're still stuck in a 20th century analog model is not Google's burden. There's a reason we're no longer using BBS's: we've moved on to forums and social media and microblogging. The simple reason no one buys newspapers anymore is because there is a multiverse of information sources out there, and if the UK-Guardian or that idiot Rupert Murdoch won't print it, someone else will (within minutes). The vast proportion of their "content" is neither
unique nor worth paying for! (At least in customer's minds.)
Joe is also right about open standards and openness. The best things in higher societies are open and free -- education, science, art, libraries, infrastructure (including digital), information, but wrong on his timing. The newspaper industry was holding conferences in the mid-90s on what to do about dwindling revenues and diminished readership. And in 1999, the RIAA sued Napster within six months after getting started instead of either licensing or buying it and using it as a commercial delivery vehicle. Google wasn't founded until Sept. 1998 and didn't go public until August 2004. (See the abstract below on how Bill Gates had to separate the software from the hardware to make his money.)
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For more great reading on this topic, check out Andy Updegrove's, A Concise Introduction to Free and Open Source Software
. In the early days of information technology (IT), computers were delivered with operating systems and basic application software already installed, without additional cost, and in editable (source code) form. But as software emerged as a stand-alone product, the independent software vendors (ISVs) that were launched to take advantage of this commercial opportunity no longer delivered source code, in order to prevent competitors from gaining access to their trade secrets. The practice also had the (intended) result that computer users became dependent on their ISVs for support and upgrades. Due to the increasingly substantial investments computer users made in application software, they also became “locked in” to their hardware and software vendors’ products, because of the high cost of abandoning, or reconfiguring, their existing application software to run on the proprietary operating system of a new vendor. In response, a movement in support of “free software” (i.e., programs accompanied both by source code as well as the legal right to modify, share and distribute that code) emerged in the mid 1980s. The early proponents of free software regarded the right to share source code as an essential freedom, but a later faction focused only on the practical advantages of freely sharable code, which they called “open source.” Concurrently, the Internet enabled a highly distributed model of software development to become pervasive, based upon voluntary code contributions and globally collaborative efforts. The combined force of these developments resulted in the rapid proliferation of “free and open source software” (FOSS) development projects that have created many “best of breed” operating system and application software products, such that the economic importance of FOSS has now become very substantial. In this article, I trace the origins and theories of the free software and open source movements, the complicated legal implications of FOSS development and use, and the supporting infrastructural ecosystem that has grown up to support this increasingly vital component of our modern, IT based society.
One of my favorite topics. Thanks for posting, mouser!