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Open source ideology and politics

An intriguing post has appeared on the blog of Sirius Corporation, one of the UK’s foremost open source suppliers.

Entitled ‘Open Source: The Capitalists’ Choice‘, Ben Bell, the author, first deals with the typical assumptions made about open source:

I often hear people referring to Open Source and Free Software advocates jokingly, or not so jokingly, as “communists” or “hippies”. After all, giving away your “intellectual property” for the greater good may be a nice theory in some ideal world, but it rather flies in the face of capitalism, doesn’t it?

Well, let’s see. That sounds fairly standard fare, as is borne out by this post, courtesy of Shelley the Republican (“freedom-hating red-communist Linux freetards”; now I do feel insulted. I’m an anarchist. Ed. 😉 )

Anyway, back to the Sirius blog post…The author then goes on to argue how it is closed, proprietary software that has got it all wrong, likening it to Britain’s bodged, Byzantine railway privatisation.

Proprietary software is akin to the privatisation of the railways. It pays lip-service to the perceived efficiency benefits but if you look at it closely, you realise that the fundamental motivation of competition is absent.

It ends by positing that open source has business right…

Open Source is good capitalism. It encourages competition, it allows small players easy entry to the market and it rewards genuine delivery of value to customers.

…and proprietary software is the real authoritarian, freedom-hating villain.

I recommend reading the original post.

As I finish writing, the post has now also appeared on ComputerworldUK.

Hat tip: Mark Turner

4 Responses to Open source ideology and politics

  1. MJ Ray June 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    “Open Source is good capitalism”

    Bong! Oxymoron at line one?

    It’s Cooperatives Fortnight now. Shouldn’t we be talking about freedom and community, rather than worrying what private “open source” companies are doing?

    Hope to see you at or other events this week or next.

    • Steve Woods June 23, 2010 at 8:39 am #

      Hi MJ and thanks for your comment. I don’t know about the oxymoron, but wanted to draw attention to the original post to illustrate the wide appeal of free and open source software which has attracted for a wide variety of users ranging from hard-up small voluntary organisations trying to avoid punitive licensing fees to big business seeking to cut costs and maximise profits. Of course, co-operatives work differently and seek collaboration rather than competition…

  2. MJ Ray June 23, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    OK, fine. Things like seem much better illustrations of that to me.

  3. Steve Woods June 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    Thanks for the link MJ. I hadn’t read the People & Planet piece before. It certainly offers compelling reasons (if any were needed) for using free/open source.