Open Source As Truth


Matt Asay, who co-hosts the weekly Technometria podcast I do on IT Conversations, has written an excellent essay on the pragmatism of open source. Matt uses Richardson's William James as a jumping off point. Matt says:

Why do I believe open source is the best way to develop, distribute, and support software? Because it works. Some may answer, "But look at Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc. Surely they "work" in the sense that they have been massively successful." To this I concur, but with a caveat. Or, rather, with a statement: "at a given moment in time."

That is, the end-to-end proprietary model makes sense, but only in the early phases of a market's growth. Those of you who have read Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma will recognize this principle. It remains true just long enough to become false. Soon into the market's evolution, the market shifts to embrace heterogeneity. Those that cling to end-to-end proprietary ecosystems eventually fail through the exact same mechanisms that made them initially so successful.

This is a bold statement. He goes on to argue that if he's right "open source is a far more efficient way to profit from code". And in the tradition of James declares that "the truth of what I say (or the falsehood) will demonstrate itself in the market."