A call to policy makers: Open source is where innovation is happening

Published on: 03/08/2015
Last update: 05/08/2015

The impact of technology on society and the economy continues to excite and challenge all of us. Policy makers are no exception. Their objective—writ large—is to put in place policies that encourage the development and deployment of beneficial technologies in order to drive growth, prosperity, and the general welfare of their citizens. Where should policy makers focus? The best place is where the future is happening. In other words, the best place is where innovation is happening.

In a 2011 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen famously said "software is eating the world," meaning that software is invading and disrupting all parts of the economy. "More and more major businesses and industries," Andreessen wrote, "are being run on software and delivered as online services." The leaders in nearly every segment of the economy—from books, to telecommunications, to transportation, to retail, to financial services, to health care, to national defense—are or will soon be disruptive new software companies or incumbents that transform themselves into software companies. Software, in other words, is where Andreessen said innovation is happening.

And innovation, of course, is the key to growth, prosperity, and our future.

Since that time, several others have amended—or, perhaps, extended—Andreessen's quote, by pointing out that "open source is eating software." As surely as software is disrupting all segments of our economy and society, open source is in the process of disrupting and transforming nearly all segments of software.

There are multiple lists to be found detailing the ways in which open source is besting—or "eating"—proprietary offerings. But to understand the significance of this, it's useful to return to Andreessen's original argument. They key to his 2011 thesis is that "all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale." The very characteristics that are allowing software to "eat the world"—a networked world enabling faster innovation, scalability, customization, and collaboration—are the same characteristics that put open source ahead of proprietary. Open source means quality, security, and cost-effectiveness. And, most importantly, it means genuine interoperability to fully enable the networked world.

The net is that it is open source truly where innovation is happening.


The complete article can be read at Opensource.com. It is partly republished here with the kind permission of the author, Paul Brownell, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Public Policy Director for Red Hat. It is published here under Creative Commons.

Description of license: Creative Commons

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)