The military-industrial open source complex

Summary:Have the people sworn to protect us from fanatics in caves suddenly gained open source religion?

A press release hit my desk yesterday which I'm still trying to figure out.

It's from Lockheed Martin, and covers the open sourcing of Eureka Streams, trademarked in May.

It's described as an engine for creating social networks, allowing workers to comment on news and its detritus through blogs, discussions, etc.

It's said to scale, and said to be secure. It's offered under the Apache 2.0 license and it has a Web site. The source code is at GitHub. The Web site is unfinished.

This is the second gift from the military-industrial complex in the last week.

You may remember the first, the Open Information Security Foundation, said by its creators to be the next big thing, said by the creator of Snort to be a cheap knock-off of his code.

To what do we owe the honor? Have the people sworn to protect us from fanatics in caves suddenly gained open source religion? Are they trying to ingratiate themselves with a new Administration which looks favorably on open source? Or are they trying to take it over, infiltrate it?

The answers to these questions are important, as is your speculation, because the welcome these projects get from the open source community will likely determine how much help they get. Reputation is vital in open source, and government often has a poor one.

Then there's the quality of the offering itself. I don't see anything in Eureka Streams I can't do in Drupal, or a number of other high-quality open source projects that have existed for years. Lockheed has reinvented the wheel -- why? And why should I help them push it up the hill?

The author of Eureka Streams, who goes by the name Sterlecki at Github, has left no previous tracks there. Linkedin lists the same picture as belonging to  Steve Terlecki, a Lockheed software developer.

The stuff's legit, so we're left again with the question of motive. Is the military-industrial complex reaching out to open source, is this just proof of press reports showing our spy efforts have more bloat in them than a Macy's Thanksgiving float, are we being co-opted, or am I just too suspicious?

You decide.

Topics: CXO, Enterprise Software, 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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