Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Open Source vs. Open Standards note

Open Source vs. Open Standards note

I posted a comment on this Crooked Timber thread, and then decided to cross-post it here. One of the comments on the thread said:

Fair enough then - but what interests me is how this open source stuff provides an interesting example of how collective resources can really allow individuals to do creative and unexpected things. "

And I wanted to elaborate on that a bit. So far most of open source stuff that has not been donated by larger organizations (e.g. IBM, Sun) is rarely creative and unexpected. By far most of the open source software tries to provide a zero-cost license software that does what other, non-zero cost license software does.

I have to agree with Jonathan Shwartz of Sun Microsystems when he says that open source is not nearly as important as open standards. It is indeed the open standards that provide the opportunity to do creative and unexpected things, not the open source software per se. For vast majority of users there is no difference between a piece of software that is open-source - like gcc, or distributed for free, like Sun JDK. What is important for creativity, IMO, is how powerful, open and standards-compliant the software is, not what license it is under.


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