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ONLamp: Open Source and Open Standards

May 01, 2003, 11:30 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Saint-André)

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"How critical are open standards to the viability of the open source community? And which is a stronger guarantee of openness in the technology ecosystem: open standards or open code?

"In a recent article entitled Open Standards versus Open Source, Jonathan Schwartz of Sun Microsystems argues that open standards (i.e., open protocols) are more important than open source code. While he sets up an opposition between standards and source (that little word 'versus' in his title), in reality there is no such thing--the two are mostly orthogonal to each other and, as we shall see, both are necessary.

"As you might expect, Schwartz's argument has not gone unchallenged. For example, Kevin Werbach points out that open source projects depend on open protocols (think Apache and HTTP, Mozilla and HTML/CSS/JavaScript, Sendmail and SMTP), but that proprietary products do, too (IIS, IE, Exchange). And Dave Winer, while cautioning against the often-obfuscated output of the major standards bodies, celebrates the diversity that results from open formats and protocols: small development houses are free to create closed implementations and thus are not tied to restrictive licenses such as the GPL..."

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