What’s driving open source in 2012? I presented a keynote address at OSS2012, the 8th International Conference on Open Source Systems this morning. My talk, entitled “What’s Driving Open Source”, tried to capture the forces that are shaping the evolution of the concept of software freedom and its pragmatic expression through open source software.
In the talk, I explained how the idea of open source partly arose from the realisation in 1998 that trying to talk ethics with corporations is largely fruitless (as Bryan Cantrill puts it, they are like lawnmowers; when they cut your hand off, it’s not because they are evil, it’s because you stuck your hand in them to stop them rather than grasping their controls). Open source was shaped by the drivers of 1998 and onwards – mainly price and concepts derived from price by both suppliers and deployers – but in the 15 years since then, the drivers have changed.
Today, it’s licensing for community strength, responding to software patents, independent foundations, cloud computing and big data that are providing the forces that are shaping open source. I’m preparing an article on this for InfoWorld, so will say (much) more later.