With the close of the old year, and the advent of the new, it's very easy to sit back and start reflecting on where open source has been and where it's going.
But as I feel myself being drawn into the age-old year-end tradition, I suddenly shake my head and ask myself: why bother? Why be introspective and start dreaming of a better future? Or lamenting the good old days?
The simple fact of the matter is, open source is right where it needs to be: a powerful, accepted force in the software industry where real innovation is happening every day.
Who can ask for more than that?
I mean, seriously, open source platforms are everywhere in the server and mobile space. And, as Jay Lyman pointed out to me this summer, not a single bit of big-data technology could have been created without open source software.
Is there room for improvement? Of course, that's something we should always strive towards. In open source, I worry about two trends, one from the outside and one from the inside, that are holding the industry back.
From the outside, the use of legal tactics to slow or outright kill the advancement of open source software (particularly in the mobile sector) continues to be a serious problem. Sadly, I don't see it stopping anytime soon, particularly as cloud and big data use explodes in the coming months. The more commodization and collaboration succeeds, the more desperate proprietary software companies get desperate.
From the inside, I am continually bothered by the lack of innovation within some open source sectors. I've already stated my opinion on what seems to be the slow-down of native-app innovation on the Linux desktop, in favor of web-based applications.
Open source should be the playground for innovation--that's what it's best at--and vendors, developers, and users should never be afraid to try new things.
For the most part, however, I believe the free and open source ecosystem is right on track, leading the drive in personal, scientific, and business technology.
So, as I wrap up "Open for Discussion" for 2011, here's one more thought before I go: consider every innovation that's been made in technology this year, and I think you will discover that open source software has has influence on every significant event.
And that, dear reader, ain't so bad.
Until we meet again in 2012, I wish you peace.
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