WideOpenNews: “Be Open or Die”

The open source idea goes far beyond software — it informs
how businesses will succeed, how fortunes will be made, and how
creativity will flourish in the new economy spawned by the

“A recent spate of Internet controversies repeatedly raises one
central issue — the choice between an open architecture and a
closed, proprietary system. May the Microsoft Network distribute
software code that allows its users to communicate with the users
of America Online’s instant messaging system, without AOL’s
permission? Must cable companies that offer high-bandwidth
connections open those systems up to competing Internet service
providers? Does a company providing domain name registration have a
duty to distribute its registration data to others who want to
create new businesses based on access to those files?…”

“What all these questions have in common is that they seem to
ask whether baseline infrastructure created through substantial
expenditures should be considered private property or merely the
next step forward in our collective climb out of ignorance. When
should we treat new systems, new insights, or newly collected data
as proprietary? And when should we treat them as part of a shared
commons, access to which must be guaranteed? More precisely, when
should builders of business models to which others might add value
open up to that potential, and when should the creators of new and
valuable works allow others to build a new layer of value on top of
their accomplishments?”