Open source… tooo open?

Anything free is probably the biggest boon for any student. I realized that after I came here… when I was tagged as an international student. Things were suddenly too expensive, too many readings and books became optional. Therefore the idea of open source was too much not to think about. This class has all the resources free, online, journals, articles, presentations etc…. the ease and freedom of access makes this class that much more attractive and convenient.

One of the articles we read about the Open Source was by Mitchell Kapoor, the founder of Lotus Development Corp. I was supposed to role play him in one of the classes, and I am pretty sure I ended up doing a horrible job. The main discussions at that point was how much controls should there be over the open source? If there is a control or a framework, does that make it any less free or open to use? Some of the basic features of open source are decentralization and freedom to use and distribute. The biggest issue in open source is management. A lot of people are always working on the same software and a lot of people are using it. There are a lot of version problems because most of the software is always being updated.

Open source software is an awesome tool for people interested in building a collaborative environment. There is a lot of freedom to build code, functions, and make the existing ones better. This is probably the most useful thing for uninitiated people (such as me) who don’t really keep up with the changing technologies all the time. This is a great way to improve on our existing technical knowledge, our view about technology, and the way we think.

The main issue still remains the constant state of flux that the open source community experiences. I would like to propose a small model for this…. it’s a pretty simplistic view of the concept, but worth a thought. If open source could work on the same philosophy as the Multinational Companies (MNC). Companies which have an international presence, they act, work, hire locally. They have a common philosophy, policy, working ideas, all over the world. Still they function together as a unit, maintaining their individual presence. Let us take the example of IST. Taking IST as the starting point, if we move towards the outside of the circle, it could be a pretty big community. IST is a part of School of Education, which is a part of the University. The university has different campuses which in turn have different schools and departments. If a model to control open source by the universities, statewide, region wide is constructed there could be a framework of sorts. Control is not what Open Source is about, but there has to be a system in place which acts as a guiding light. Too much access, too soon, with unlimited control may lead to misuse as well as a lot of confusion. Not set rules for the control, but set guidelines which depicts how each unit needs to function in that quarter of the play!  


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