Sometimes I love London. I went to the Whistlebump boat party then onto DTPM on Sunday and tonight I went to hear Tim O’Reilly speak at the UKUUG on “The Open Source Paradigm Shift”.
One of the really interesting points he made was that we’re moving towards selling services (the things software does) rather than software itself.
He thinks Linux’s killer apps aren’t desktop or productivity applications, but google, Amazon, mapquest, etc. And these new applications are made up equally from the application code and the data held in the back-end. Without the (usually user-contributed) data, the application code itself isn’t much. In the future, ‘open data’ might be as important as ‘open source’.
He raised the issue of a “Bill of Rights” for web service users who provide the data that makes the new web services so valuable – user-provided data is the new lock-in. From other speech notes, “As we move into the world of web services, in which software is no longer distributed as either binaries OR source code, but instead performed on a remote server, what kind of bill of rights is required to protect users? What kind of agreements will provide web services users and developers with some of the freedoms that we have come to expect from open source? In short, how do we translate the open source definition to the new paradigm?”
Other points: web services are a growth area. (Lucky for me and my future job prospects!)
I didn’t take notes at the time, so I’ve been surfing around Tim’s writing and finding bits and pieces that were in the talk.
From “People think open source is about licenses — but it’s more significant than that. In fact, a lot of the value of open source has been obscured by all the debate about licensing. Open architectures allow people you don’t know to invent things you haven’t thought of that work with whatever you already have.”
He thought html’s ‘View Source’ was a really important factor in the web boom and not often included in discussions of open source: “HTML is probably the single greatest testament to the power of source alone to jumpstart innovation. The “view source” menu item made it possible for anyone to see a neat feature on another web site, and immediately see how it was done. And a culture that encouraged leapfrogging (rather than blocking it via patents, copyrights, or standards committees.)” (The Architecture of Participation)