Open source is apolitical

Summary:No matter what your other beliefs you can be part of the open source movement, agree to an open source license, and contribute to an open source project.

Iranian drone from Chris AndersonÂ’s Longtail blog
This week a number of thinkers tried to pigeonhole open source inside political philosophy.

Thankfully they all failed. (The plane? Read on and it will be explained.)

Turning open source into a political issue is worse than turning science into one, although I know people do it. People do lots of stupid things.

Open source is an economic phenomenon, rearranging relations between buyers and sellers, users and makers. It's based on licenses, agreements designed to fit inside any political, legal or economic system.  

No matter what your other beliefs you can be part of the open source movement, agree to an open source license, and contribute to an open source project.

So why do so many people try to play "capture the flag" with it? So it will fit into their other preconceptions, not outside them.

Michael Tiemann (friend of the blog) tried this week to make open source libertarian. His post started with liberal Diane Rehm, and reminded me of posts last year by Markos Moulitsas, aka Kos, calling himself a Libertarian Democrat.

Both Tiemann and Kos were trying to apply their older political philosophies to their current work, to make themselves feel they were being consistent.

Tiemann's effort drew a sharp retort from Tim Swanson of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, flag carrier for official libertarianism. "Libertarianism is not a philosophy developed to justify a specific business model," he sniffed.

Then we had Chris Anderson, he of the Long Tail, asking whether open source could commit treason. An Iranian bedecked a drone in his nation's flag, its design based on open sourced ideas Anderson and others had worked on.

"I'm conflicted on this," he admitted. But then so was the Iranian seeing drones bedecked in U.S. or Israeli flags. Apparently he got over it, and didn't blame open source.

The fact is, again, that open source, like math, crosses all borders -- national borders, philosophical borders, economic borders, cultural borders.

Why? Because it's based on freely entered-into agreement. And anyone can make an agreement, no matter what their politics.

Topics: Open Source

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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