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O’Reilly Network: Open Source: The Model for Collaboration in the Age of the Internet

“Much of the role of open source in the development of the
Internet is well known: The most widely used TCP/IP protocol
implementation was developed as part of Berkeley networking; Bind
runs the DNS, without which none of the web sites we depend on
would be reachable; sendmail is the heart of the Internet e-mail
backbone; Apache is the dominant web server; Perl the dominant
language for creating dynamic sites, etc. etc….”

“I’d like to argue that open source is the “natural language” of
a networked community, that the growth of the Internet and the
growth of open source are interconnected by more than happenstance.
As individuals found ways to communicate through highly leveraged
network channels, they were able to share information at a new pace
and a new level. Just as the spread of literacy in the late middle
ages disenfranchised old power structures and led to the flowering
of the renaissance, it’s been the ability of individuals to share
knowledge outside the normal channels that has led to our current
explosion of innovation. Just as ease of travel helped new ideas to
spread, wide area networking has allowed ideas to spread and take
root in new ways. Open source is ultimately about
communication….”

If you believe me that open source is about
Internet-enabled collaboration, rather than just about a particular
style of software license, you’ll open a much larger tent. You’ll
see the threads that tie together not just traditional open source
projects, but also collaborative “computing grid”
projects
like SETIAtHome, user reviews on Amazon.com, technologies like
collaborative filtering, new ideas about marketing such as those
expressed in The Cluetrain Manifesto, weblogs, and the way that
Internet message boards can now move the stock market. What started
out as a software development methodology is increasingly becoming
a facet of every field, as network enabled conversations become a
principal carrier of new ideas.”

Complete
Story