Open Source Community

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Open source is a set of principles and practices that promote access to the design and production of goods and knowledge. The term is most commonly applied to the source code of software that is available to the general public with relaxed or non-existent intellectual property restrictions. This allows users to create software content through incremental individual effort or through collaboration.

The open source model of operation can be extended to open source culture in decision making, which allows concurrent input of different agendas, approaches and priorities, in contrast with more centralized models of development such as those typically used in commercial companies. Raymond, Eric S. The Cathedral and the Bazaar. ed 3.0. 2000. Open source culture is one where collective decisions or fixations are shared during development and made generally available in the public domain, as done in Wikipedia. This collective approach moderates ethical concerns over a "conflict of roles" or conflict of interest. Participants in such a culture are able to modify the collective outcomes and share them with the community. Some consider open source as one of various possible design approaches, while others consider it a critical strategic element of their operations.

Before the term open source became popular, developers and producers used various phrases to describe the concept; the term gained popularity with the rise of the Internet which enabled diverse production models, communication paths and interactive communities. The complexity of such communication relates to Brooks' law, and is described by Eric S. Raymond, "Brooks predicts that as your number of programmers N rises, work performed scales as N but complexity and vulnerability to bugs rises as N-squared. N-squared tracks the number of communications paths (and potential code interfaces) between developers' code bases." —"The Revenge of the Hackers". 2000. Later, open source software became the most prominent face of open source practices.

History

In the 1950s, IBM distributed operating systems in source format, and the SHARE user group was formed to facilitate the exchange of source code. In 1960's, researchers with access to the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) used a process called Request for Comments, which is similar to open standards, to develop telecommunication network protocols. Characterized by contemporary open source work, this collaborative process led to the birth of the Internet in 1969.

The "open source" label came out of a strategy session History of the OSI. Open Source Initiative. 2006. held at Palo Alto, California, in reaction to Netscape's January 1998 announcement of a source code release for Navigator. The group of individuals at the session included Christine Peterson who suggested "open source", Todd Anderson, Larry Augustin, Jon Hall, Sam Ockman, and Eric S. Raymond. They used the opportunity before the release of Navigator's source code to free themselves of the ideological and confrontational connotations of the term free software. Netscape licensed and released its code as open source under the Netscape Public License and subsequently under the Mozilla Public License. Open Source: A Multidisciplinary Approach

The term was given a big boost at an event organized in April 1998 by technology publisher Tim O'Reilly. Originally titled the "Freeware Summit" and later known as the "Open Source Summit", Open Source Summit Linux Gazette. 1998. the event brought together the leaders of many of the most important free and open source projects, including Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, Brian Behlendorf, Eric Allman, Guido van Rossum, Michael Tiemann, Paul Vixie, Jamie Zawinski of Netscape, and Eric Raymond. At that meeting, the confusion caused by the name "free software" was brought up. Tiemann argued for "sourceware" as a new term, while Raymond argued for "open source." The assembled developers took a vote, and the winner was announced at a press conference that evening. This milestone may be commonly seen as the birth of the Open Source Initiative.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) formed in February 1998 by Raymond and Perens. With about 20 years of evidence from case histories of closed and open development already provided by the Internet, the OSI continued to present the 'open source' case to commercial businesses. They sought to bring a higher profile to the practical benefits of freely available source code, and wanted to bring major software businesses and other high-tech industries into open source. Perens adapted Debian's Free Software Guidelines to make the Open Source Definition. Perens, Bruce. [1] Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution]. O'Reilly Media. 1999.

Critics have said that the term "open source" fosters an ambiguity between the mere availability of the source versus the freedom to use, modify, and redistribute it. Developers have used the term Free/Open-Source Software (FOSS), or Free/Libre/Open-Source Software (FLOSS), consequently, to describe open-source software that is freely available and free of charge.

Society and culture

Open source culture is the creative practice of appropriation and free sharing of found and created content. Examples include collage, found footage film, music, and appropriation art. Open source culture is one in which fixations are made generally available. Participants in the culture can modify those products and redistribute them back into the community or other organizations. Informing and inspiring the open source movement are the African call-and-response traditions, Jazz and the free dance movements which emerged in the 20th Century. Late 20th Century open source strategies include Fluxus, web jams, Wigglism and the international Hip Hop culture.

The rise of open-source culture in the 20th century resulted from a growing tension between creative practices that involve appropriation, and therefore require access to content that is often copyrighted, and increasingly restrictive intellectual property laws and policies governing access to copyrighted content. The two main ways in which intellectual property laws became more restrictive in the 20th century were extensions to the term of copyright (particularly in the United States) and penalties, such as those articulated in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), placed on attempts to circumvent anti-piracy technologies.

Although artistic appropriation is often permitted under fair use doctrines, the complexity and ambiguity of these doctrines creates an atmosphere of uncertainty among cultural practitioners. Also, the protective actions of copyright owners create what some call a "chilling effect" among cultural practitioners.

In the late 20th century, cultural practitioners began to adopt the intellectual property licensing techniques of free software and open-source software to make their work more freely available to others, including the Creative Commons.

The idea of an "open source" culture runs parallel to "Free Culture," but is substantively different. Free culture is a term derived from the free software movement, and in contrast to that vision of culture, proponents of OSC maintain that some intellectual property law needs to exist to protect cultural producers. Yet they propose a more nuanced position than corporations have traditionally sought. Instead of seeing intellectual property law as an expression of instrumental rules intended to uphold either natural rights or desirable outcomes, an argument for OSC takes into account diverse goods (as in "the Good life") and ends.

One way of achieving the goal of making the fixations of cultural work generally available is to maximally utilize technology and digital media. As predicted by Moore's law, the cost of digital media and storage plummeted in the late 20th Century. Consequently, the marginal cost of digitally duplicating anything capable of being transmitted via digital media dropped to near zero. Combined with an explosive growth in personal computer and technology ownership, the result is an increase in general population's access to digital media. This phenomenon facilitated growth in open source culture because it allowed for rapid and inexpensive duplication and distribution of culture. Where the access to the majority of culture produced prior to the advent of digital media was limited by other constraints of proprietary and potentially "open" mediums, digital media is the latest technology with the potential to increase access to cultural products. Artists and users who choose to distribute their work digitally face none of the physical limitations that traditional cultural producers have been typically faced with. Accordingly, the audience of an open source culture faces little physical cost in acquiring digital media.

Open source culture started as an idea without a name many years before the Internet. Richard Stallman codified the concept with the creation of the Free Software Foundation. However, even before Stallman and the Internet, as the public begain to communicate through Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) like FidoNet, places like Sourcery Systems BBS where dedicated to providing source code to Public Domain, Shareware and Freeware programs.

Essentially born out of a desire for increased general access to digital media, the Internet is open source culture's most valuable asset. It is questionable whether the goals of an open source culture could be achieved without the Internet. The global network not only fosters an environment where culture can be generally accessible, but also allows for easy and inexpensive redistribution of culture back into various communities. Some reasons for this are as follows.

First, the Internet allows even greater access to inexpensive digital media and storage. Instead of users being limited to their own facilities and resources, they are granted access to a vast network of facilities and resources, some for free. Sites such as Archive.org offer up free web space for anyone willing to license their work under the Creative Commons license. The resulting cultural product is then available to download for free (generally accessible) to anyone with an Internet connection.

Second, users are granted unprecedented access to each other. Older analog technologies such as the telephone or television have limitations on the kind of interaction users can have. In the case of television there is little, if any interaction between users participating on the network. And in the case of the telephone, users rarely interact with any more than a couple of their known peers. On the Internet, however, users have the potential to access and meet millions of their peers. This aspect of the Internet facilitates the modification of culture as users are able to collaborate and communicate with each other across international and cultural boundaries. The speed in which digital media travels on the Internet in turn facilitates the redistribution of culture.

Through various technologies such as peer-to-peer networks and blogs, cultural producers can take advantage of vast social networks in order to distribute their products. As opposed to traditional media distribution, redistributing digital media on the Internet can be virtually costless. Technologies such as BitTorrent and Gnutella take advantage of various characteristics of the Internet protocol (TCP/IP) in an attempt to totally decentralize file distribution.

Government

  • Open source governmentprimarily refers to use of open source software technologies in traditional government organizations and government operations such as voting.
  • Open politics (sometimes known as Open source politics) — is a term used to describe a political process that uses Internet technologies such as blogs, email and polling to provide for a rapid feedback mechanism between political organizations and their supporters. There is also an alternative conception of the term Open source politics which relates to the development of public policy under a set of rules and processes similar to the Open Source Software movement.
  • Open source governance — is similar to open source politics, but it applies more to the democratic process and promotes the freedom of information.

Ethics

Open Source ethics is split into two strands:

  • Open Source Ethics as an Ethical School - Charles Ess and David Berry are researching whether ethics can learn anything from an open source approach. Ess famously even defined the AoIR Research Guidelines as an example of open source ethics.[2] Berry (2004) Internet Ethics: Privacy, Ethics and Alienation - An Open Source Approach.] (PDF file)
  • Open Source Ethics as a Professional Body of Rules - This is based principally on the computer ethics school, studying the questions of ethics and professionalism in the computer industry in general and software development in particular. [3], El-Emam, K (2001). Ethics and Open Source. Empirical Software Engineering 6(4).]

Media

Open source journalism — referred to the standard journalistic techniques of news gathering and fact checking, and reflected a similar term that was in use from 1992 in military intelligence circles, open source intelligence. It is now commonly used to describe forms of innovative publishing of online journalism, rather than the sourcing of news stories by a professional journalist. In the Dec 25, 2006 issue of TIME magazine this is referred to as user created content and listed alongside more traditional open source projects such as OpenSolaris and Linux.

Weblogs, or blogs, are another significant platform for open source culture. Blogs consist of periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts, using a technology that makes webpages easily updatable with no understanding of design, code, or file transfer required. While corporations, political campaigns and other formal institutions have begun using these tools to distribute information, many blogs are used by individuals for personal expression, political organizing, and socializing. Some, such as LiveJournal or WordPress, utilize open source software that is open to the public and can be modified by users to fit their own tastes. Whether the code is open or not, this format represents a nimble tool for people to borrow and re-present culture; whereas traditional websites made the illegal reproduction of culture difficult to regulate, the mutability of blogs makes "open sourcing" even more uncontrollable since it allows a larger portion of the population to replicate material more quickly in the public sphere.

Messageboards are another platform for open source culture. Messageboards (also known as discussion boards or forums), are places online where people with similar interests can congregate and post messages for the community to read and respond to. Messageboards sometimes have moderators who enforce community standards of etiquette such as banning users who are spammers. Other common board features are private messages (where users can send messages to one another) as well as chat (a way to have a real time conversation online) and image uploading. Some messageboards use phpBB, which is a free open source package. Where blogs are more about individual expression and tend to revolve around their authors, messageboards are about creating a conversation amongst its users where information can be shared freely and quickly. Messageboards are a way to remove intermediaries from everyday life - for instance, instead of relying on commercials and other forms of advertising, one can ask other users for frank reviews of a product, movie or CD. By removing the cultural middlemen, messageboards help speed the flow of information and exchange of ideas.

OpenDocument is an open document file format for saving and exchanging editable office documents such as text documents (including memos, reports, and books), spreadsheets, charts, and presentations. Organizations and individuals that store their data in an open format such as OpenDocument avoid being locked in to a single software vendor, leaving them free to switch software if their current vendor goes out of business, raises their prices, changes their software, or changes their licensing terms to something less favorable.

Open source movie production is either an open call system in which a changing crew and cast collaborate in movie production, a system in which the end result is made available for re-use by others or in which exclusively open source products are used in the production. The 2006 movie Elephants Dream is said to be the "world's first open movie" http://www.elephantsdream.org/, created entirely using open source technology.

Open Source Technology Good Stoves - a movement that each individual or organization /s develop technology for common good with out expecting profit (or patenting). It is an idea to design efficient stoves for the millions using traditional or less efficient biomass stoves, so that these clean stoves if adopted would help in mitigating the Climate change / global warming too. www.goodstove.com

An open source documentary film has a production process allowing the open contributions of archival material, footage, and other filmic elements, both in unedited and edited form. By doing so, on-line contributors become part of the process of creating the film, helping to influence the editorial and visual material to be used in the documentary, as well as its thematic development. The first open source documentary film to go into production "The American Revolution" [4] "The American Revolution]," which will examine the role that WBCN-FM in Boston played in the cultural, social and political changes locally and nationally from 1968 to 1974, is being produced by Lichtenstein Creative Media and the non-profit The Fund for Independent Media. Open Source Cinema is a website to create Basement Tapes, a feature documentary about copyright in the digital age, co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Open Source Filmmaking refers to a form of filmmaking that takes a method of idea formation from open source software, but in this case the 'source' for a film maker is raw unedited footage rather than programming code. It can also refer to a method of filmmaking where the process of creation is 'open' i.e. a disparate group of contributors, at different times contribute to the final piece.

Open-IPTV is IPTV that is not limited to one recording studio, production studio, or cast. Open-IPTV uses the Internet or other means to pool efforts and resources together to create an online community that all contributes to a show.

Education

Within the academic community, there is discussion about expanding what could be called the "intellectual commons" (analogous to the Creative Commons). Proponents of this view have hailed the Connexions Project at Rice University, OpenCourseWare project at MIT, Eugene Thacker's article on "Open Source DNA", the "Open Source Cultural Database", openwebschool, and Wikipedia as examples of applying open source outside the realm of computer software.

Open source curricula are instructional resources whose digital source can be freely used, distributed and modified.

Another strand to the academic community is in the area of research. Many funded research projects produce software as part of their work. There is an increasing interest in making the outputs of such projects available under an open source license. In the UK the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has developed a policy on open source software. JISC also funds a development service called OSS Watch which acts as an advisory service for higher and further education institutions wishing to use, contribute to and develop open source software.

Innovation communities

The principle of sharing predates the open source movement; for example, the free sharing of information has been institutionalized in the scientific enterprise since at least the 19th century. Open source principles have always been part of the scientific community. The sociologist Robert K. Merton described the four basic elements of the community - universalism (an international perspective), communism (sharing information), disinterestedness (removing one's personal views from the scientific inquiry) and organized skepticism (requirements of proof and review) that accurately describe the scientific community today. These principles are, in part, complemented by US law's focus on protecting expression and method but not the ideas themselves. There is also a tradition of publishing research results to the scientific community instead of keeping all such knowledge proprietary. One of the recent initiatives in scientific publishing has been open access - the idea that research should be published in such a way that it is free and available to the public. There are currently many open access journals where the information is available for free online, however most journals do charge a fee (either to users or libraries for access). The Budapest Open Access Initiative is an international effort with the goal of making all research articles available for free on the Internet. The National Institutes of Health has recently proposed a policy on "Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information." This policy would provide a free, searchable resource of NIH-funded results to the public and with other international repositories six months after its initial publication. The NIH's move is an important one because there is significant amount of public funding in scientific research. Many of the questions have yet to be answered - the balancing of profit vs. public access, and ensuring that desirable standards and incentives do not diminish with a shift to open access.

Benjamin Franklin was an early contributor eventually donating all his inventions including the Franklin stove, bifocals and the lightning rod to the public domain after successfully profiting off their sales and patents.

New NGO communities are starting to use the open source technology as a tool. One example is the Open Source Youth Network started in 2007 in Lisboa by ISCA members, http://www.isca-web.org/english/youth/yource/thenetwork.

Arts and recreation

Copyright protection is used in the performing arts and even in athletic activities. Groups have attempted to protect such practices from being fettered by copyright. http://www.yogaunity.org

Criticism

Critics of “Open Source” publishing cite the need for direct compensation for the work of creation. For example, the act of writing a book, building a complex piece of software, or producing a motion picture requires a substantial amount of labor. Retaining intellectual property rights over such works greatly increases the feasibility of obtaining financial compensation which covers the labor costs. The critics argue that without this compensation, many socially desirable and useful works would never be created in the first place. Some critics draw distinctions between areas where Open Source collaborations have successfully created useful products, such as general-purpose software, and areas where they see compensation as more important and collaboration as less important, such as highly specialized complex software projects, entertainment, or news.

Another criticism of the Open Source movement is that these projects are not really as self-organizing as their proponents claim. This argument holds that Open Source projects succeed only when they have a strong central manager, even if that manager is a volunteer. The article Open Source Projects Manage Themselves? Dream On. by Chuck Connell explains this viewpoint. Eric Raymond responded to this criticism, and Chuck Connell answered.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) opposes the term “Open Source” being applied to what they refer to as “free software”.[5], Why “Open Source” misses the point of Free Software

"As the advocates of open source draw new users into our community, we free software activists have to work even more to bring the issue of freedom to those new users' attention. We have to say, “It's free software and it gives you freedom!”—more and louder than ever. Every time you say “free software” rather than “open source,” you help our campaign. They also oppose the professed pragmatism of the Open Source Initiative, as they fear that the free software ideals of freedom and community are threatened by compromising on the FSF's idealistic standards for software freedom." [6],

Why “Free Software” is better than “Open Source”, GNU Project, Sooner or later these users will be invited to switch back to proprietary software for some practical advantage. Countless companies seek to offer such temptation, and why would users decline? Only if they have learned to value the freedom free software gives them, for its own sake. It is up to us to spread this idea—and in order to do that, we have to talk about freedom. A certain amount of the “keep quiet” approach to business can be useful for the community, but we must have plenty of freedom talk too. [7], Why “Open Source” misses the point of Free Software, Richard Stallman, 2007-06-16, Philosophy of the GNU Project, GNU Project

"Under the pressure of the movie and record companies, software for individuals to use is increasingly designed specifically to restrict them. This malicious feature is known as DRM, or Digital Restrictions Management (see DefectiveByDesign.org), and it is the antithesis in spirit of the freedom that free software aims to provide. [...] Yet some open source supporters have proposed “open source DRM” software. Their idea is that by publishing the source code of programs designed to restrict your access to encrypted media, and allowing others to change it, they will produce more powerful and reliable software for restricting users like you. Then it will be delivered to you in devices that do not allow you to change it. This software might be “open source,” and use the open source development model; but it won't be free software, since it won't respect the freedom of the users that actually run it. If the open source development model succeeds in making this software more powerful and reliable for restricting you, that will make it even worse."

Business models

There are a number of commonly recognized barriers to the adoption of open source software by enterprises. These barriers include the perception that open source licenses are viral, lack of formal support and training, the velocity of change, and a lack of a long term roadmap. The majority of these barriers are risk-related. Many business models exist around open source software to provide a 'whole product' to help reduce these risks. The 'whole product' typically includes support, professional services, training, certification, partner programs, references and use cases. These business models range from 'services only' organisations that do not participate in the development of the software to models where the majority of the software is created by full-time committers that are employed by a central organization. These business models have come into existence recently and their operation is not commonly understood. One model that has been developed to explain this is the Bee Keeper Model

See also

External links

fr: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source