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osOpinion: The Ultimate Open Source: NATURE

Mar 09, 2000, 07:11 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Nadeau)

[ Thanks to Kelly McNeill for this link. ]

"People who claim that Open Source software cannot become profitable, or viable, or competitive with the so-called "mainstream" proprietary software are just plain wrong. One example that proves just how wrong they are is -- Nature itself."

"Open Source means that people who want to use or modify software have access to *all* of the information necessary to do so. This is different from the proprietary world, where developers and hobbyists are at the mercy of the copyright owner as to just what information is available. The copyright owner may be a Good Guy, and give everyone equal and fair access to all information about APIs, interfaces, protocols, and data formats -- in a timely and accurate manner, with decent documentation -- or else he/she may be a Bad Guy, using this vital information to play favorites and tilt the marketplace unnaturally toward their own private, closed solution. They may do this by selective revelation, or by deceptive revelation -- actually lying about the innards of their code. The prime example of this Bad Guy character in today's world is, of course, Microsoft."

"But wait a minute -- what's "unnatural" about tilting the playing field toward one's own product? Doesn't everyone do that? Yes, up to a point. The use of marketing, innovation, and hard-nosed negotiation has historically been the competitive methodology of businesses of every size and in every market. But the difference is that in the manufacturing and sale of physical products, such as automobiles, homes, clothing, and foodstuffs, there has always been a "base" or "core" level of natural law that is available to all competitors equally...."

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