Can open source innovate?
by Matt Asay
[C]an futuristic experimental projects be developed using the open source process?I agree with Anandeep that having an organization makes open source innovation easier. After all, an open source company is no different in its ability to innovate than Microsoft, a proprietary startup, or anyone else is. It just chooses to license its software differently.
I think that the answer is yes. But these kinds projects cannot be developed in a pure open source community process like that of Linux. An institution like a university or a company has to bring to it critical mass. The US government paid for a lot of ALICE - before it could be put out there in a true community process.
But, by the same token, what is to stop an individual from innovating a new project - perhaps the "Cloud OS" that Anandeep talks about - and releasing it as open source instead of proprietary software? Nothing. There is no structural defect in open source to prevent this, and to prevent a community from growing up around it, anymore than there is a structural defect in proprietary software from doing the same.
That said, it may be very true that there are plenty of legal reasons (If I develop something on my employer's time, it will likely own the innovation, for example), money reasons (I may not believe I yet have a strong enough profit model in open source to convince me that I can keep it open source and still become a billionaire, for example), and other reasons. But structural incapacity in the open source model itself?
I don't think so.
Much OS software such as gcc, BSD/Linux, etc is implementing open standards, but that's no crime and they still have to compete with proprietary products such as AIX and Solaris that are also just implementations.
|Did you mean to phrase the question as "Is open source structurally capable of innovating?" Right now you have said it can't innovate at at all.|