The heart of open source is trust

Summary:Trust is the heart of open source. At its most basic vendors trust that those who download their software will contribute back to it, either financially or in some other way. Those who download trust they're not just getting malware.

Bill & Dave, the story of HP by Michael Malone, from Amazon.com
Open source has definitely reached the third level of fame.

You know, level one is "What's open source?" Level two is "Get me open source!"

Level three is "Get me something like open source!" Or, put open source on everything.

This week's headlines feature:

Some of the above are real open source projects. Some are open source aspirations. Some are an attempt at branding. Some are just silly.

But they do all point to one key value of open source, one that's older than the movement itself, one that's really as old as the Hewlett-Packard Co. profiled in Michael Malone's Bill & Dave.

Trust.

Trust is the heart of open source.

I have discussed several values on this blog but the key to understanding what it's all about is trust.

At its most basic vendors trust that those who download their software will contribute back to it, either financially or in some other way. Those who download trust they're not just getting malware.

Trust is at the center of the Internet's business model. To paraphrase Dr. Strangelove's Gen. Ripper, ISPs mix "precious bodily fluids." Send data first, settle payment later.

Trust, in business, is considered hard to earn. But it's easy to earn in open source, if you just give trust first. Giving trust proves you worthy of receiving trust.

Trust is the lesson that turns mere fame into immortality.

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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