Open Source has been a revolutionary idea in creating a better quality, high reliability, lower cost software, and that is taken right from their mission statement. It the idea that anyone can research study, change and distribute software for free. In a world where everything and everything is copyrighted and legally owned by someone, open source almost seems like a crazy idea at first.
Open Source is not anti-copyright. The material they work with is copyrighted, it simply allows people to have the source-code of the software, and allows them to work on it to make it better, and then distribute it. It is a “peer review” of sorts. One website ironically enough that utilizes open source is WordPress!
Another Open Source Software that is widely used, and is the maker of the browser I am using is Mozilla. This philosophy in allowing a software’s user’s to tweak it’s code, is revolutionary in theory. The fact that the people who use a software the most would know how to best change it and make it better almost seems like common sense. When properly executed it can make a software great, but if miss used it can obviously caused unintended consequences, seeing as the software’s source code is able to be used by anyone.
There are regulations in place, and 10 different definitions that must be adhered to in order to use and protect source code including integrity of the authors source code and distribution of license.
In researching different open source software I decided to look into the Mozilla project, and Mozilla Firefox, the internet browser I use. It amazed me to see that Firefox is an open source software. Anyone is able to access the source code, modify it and distribute it. And I have come to find that a few different browsers have spawned from it, most notably being the internet browser netscape. It is such a different an unique concept to think that Firefox and other software is giving this access for free. But that is what makes something open source.
And Firefox is obviously doing something right as it is the third largest internet browser in the world, and growing. It is right behind Google Chrome (another open-source software) and Internet Explorer which is not Open Source.
I want to compare Internet Explorer which is closed source and Mozilla Firefox, because of how well Firefox, and even Chrome for that matter are doing and how Explorer is really losing it’s place in the market. While yes, as of 2012 Internet Explorer was 2nd in the market behind chrome and in front of Firefox it held 95% of the market at one time. It’s reliability is increasingly mocked, while Firefox and Chrome are praised for their speed and reliability. I think a big part of this is because Explorer has been against sharing it’s source code and allowing others to tweak it. Where Firefox and Chrome were built on the concept of sharing their source code and allowing others to change it.
I think open source will continue to be the way of the future. One of the Ted Talks I watched was Richard Baraniuk from 2007, he was discussing an Open Source for textbooks, to make a free online community used for learning. This is also a revolutionary idea, as thousands of dollars are spent by students on textbooks. It would make texts much more accessible, and therefore learning more accessible!