• The Open Source Movement; a Socialist phenomenon?

    by  • November 23, 2005 • Jargon & Curiosities • 0 Comments

    No… Open Source is not about a lack of property rights, it’s about distributed property rights, distributed responsibility and networked rather than hierarchical processes.

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    One of the fascinating battles taking place on the Web, (and there are a few big ones underway) is the growing war of words between the old-guard (more Web 1.0) capitalists, typified by Microsoft and SAP, and the open-source (more Web 2.0) development community. However, the acrimony seems to be largely flying in one direction.

    In a sign that the old guard may be starting to panic about highly collaborative open-source business models, Shai Agassi, president of the product and technology group at SAP, claimed that not only was Linux “not innovative” but that it represented “I.P. Socialism”. He is not the first to dredge up cold-war rhetoric to try to discredit Linux-type solutions and dissuade clients from switching. In an interview in January this year, in response to a fairly loaded question about “people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights”, Bill Gates said:

    There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don’t think that those incentives should exist.

    Hangon, is Bill seriously lumping the IP issues of the Open Source debate in with music and movie piracy? It wasn’t said overtly, but he is inferring this kind of linkage. The “incentives” that Bill is talking about are all regulatory processes that predate the Web, and this I’m afraid makes him sound more and more like yesterday’s man.

    Both of these guys are trying to draw a parallel between open-source and left wing politics that is just not there. Communism and Socialism are about central planning and imposing a system without property rights on a populace. Open Source is not about a lack of property rights, it’s about distributed property rights, distributed responsibility and networked rather than hierarchical processes. Open Source, (which really means Open-Control) is a solution born of the Internet. It is TOTALLY about Enterprise, but just not about protecting the (circa 1980’s and 90s) Enterprises.

    Not all CEO’s spin the Commie line in relation to Open Source, Jonathan Schwartz, President and COO of Sun Microsystems had this to say on the topic:

    I believe the creation, protection and evolution of intellectual property can accelerate everyone’s ability to participate in an open network…And that, surely, should be everyone’s common goal with free and open source software. It’s not about bringing the competition down, it’s about driving global participation up.

    http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2145809/sap-dismisses-open-source
    http://insight.zdnet.co.uk/software/windows/0,39020478,39183197,00.htm

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