It’s the collaborative development of software through peer-review. It’s a constitutional right that will beckon a new age of civil liberty. It’s a business model for making great, cheap programs. It’s a disruptive economic factor that will level the playing field in the software market, a market currently dominated by monopolies.
These are some of the opinions given at the Open Source Conference at the University of Toronto on May 9-11. In a three-day schedule, speakers discussed open source software’s social, legal, business and technological implications.
Not Just for Nerds
The attendees at this conference were technically very savvy. Many had Wi-Fi enabled devices. The teenager in front of me was reading Slashdot on Firefox while running Eclipse. Another man was using Microsoft OneNote and MindManager. (I chatted with him briefly, it turns out he’s working on his Ph.D. thesis, which is an Outlook add-on that intelligently organizes your email). Who’s here: Bell University Labs, IBM, Government of Canada, Sun Microsystems, Nortel Networks, and University of Ottawa. Most were also very passionate orators with multitudes of opinions themselves.
Romancing the Source
To understand open source, we must go back to the beginning. The term “open source” was coined in 1998, but thirty years ago, virtually all software was released into the public domain.