Transparency

Summary:Transparency is at the heart of a free market, a free political system, and, I think, it's the value at the heart of the open source movement. Transparency isn't anarchy.

Transparency is at the heart of a free market, a free political system, and, I think, it's the value at the heart of the open source movement.

Transparency isn't anarchy. The New York Stock Exchange is heavily regulated, and not just by the government. But the goal of all that regulation is to make sure both sides in any transaction know as much as possible about the hand the other player is holding.

Open source is transparent. You can see the code. It's not the price that makes open source valuable. It's the transparency.

Proprietary software, by contrast, is opaque. You can't see the code. You trust the company making the software to do a good job. But software contracts don't promise the stuff will even work. They're more one-sided than a Rice-Oklahoma football game.

The need for transparency extends to process. Having an open, transparent process for changes in the code base is vital to Linux' continued success. Patents and copyrightclaims are threats to Linux not because they're costly but because they reduce transparency.

So whenever you read an open source story, or look atopen source software, measure the promises against the ideal of transparency. That's what you would be doing inbuying aother company. That's what you should do in betting your company on code.

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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