Are we in a real open source war?

Are we in a real open source war?

Summary: Every complex civilization will develop complex systems that can be destroyed through the concentrated efforts of small groups.

TOPICS: Open Source

John RobbAt his blog Global Guerillas, John Robb (left) writes that what's called the War on Terror is actually the first true open source war.

The decentralized, and seemingly chaotic guerrilla war in Iraq demonstrates a pattern that will likely serve as a model for next generation terrorists. This pattern shows a level of learning, activity, and success similar to what we see in the open source software community.

Robb then ticks off similarities between how open source works and today's evolving terror networks. Terrorists learn from the mistakes of others, and copy others' successes. They don't need a centralized structure to be effective.

The result is a war against the very idea of civilization. Every complex civilization will develop complex systems that can be destroyed through the concentrated efforts of small groups. There are so many of these vulnerabilities that not all can be protected. The best protection is consensus, giving everyone a stake in the system.

I think this idea of everyone having a stake, and not the small conspiracies of anarchists, is what open source is all about. I don't think today's terrorists know a thing about open source. I think they're hackers. And if they are hackers, they can be beaten, if their numbers can be kept low by giving everyone a stake in progress.

Topic: Open Source

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  • Unfortunately

    Just as with terrorists, the open source "anarchists" you refer to are so thoroughly convinced that they are justified in their actions that they have no concern for collateral damage, even when it's those who would otherwise support their cause. Such people use the terms of warfare and religion constantly ("enemy", "evil"). Such people do not care who has a "stake" in open source (or civilization); they only care that their target (usually Microsoft) still exists, and must be brought down at any cost. Such people justify their actions by pointing to what they perceive as comparable (or worse) actions by their "enemy", and try to deflect all criticism with examples of their "enemy"'s depravations. Such people have the attitude that, if the (IT) world can't be exactly the way they think it should be, it should be destroyed rather than become something they don't like. Such people cannot be reasoned with and are not interested in compromise.

    Sure sounds like terrorism to me. Just because the majority of open-source supporters aren't such fanatics doesn't mean there isn't a "war" going on.

    Carl Rapson
    • Hmmm....

      Sounds more like you are trying to describe Microsoft to me ;-)
  • Okay that is a bit much

    Comparing Open Source supporters to terrorists! Uh, first off we in the Open Source community do not blow up building, hijack airplanes and cut peoples heads off.

    Second, we in the Open Source community do want a piece of the pie as it were. Why not? If I have ownership of something I will make more of an effort to use it properly and protect it. I, along with countless others can help the project along. To the benefit of self and the benefit of others. It's what being a "[B]community[/B]" is all about. And the corporate types that support closed source have forgetten their roots and forgotten what community means. All they focus on is getting their way only and making lots of money regardless the impact or damage to the masses.

    If any are terrorists or to be compared as such, that would be the closed source camps. Because they are not a community. They can never be one. The drive to conquer all and the drive for monetary gain is so strong it blinds them to the real needs of the majority. It prevents them from actually participating in a community.

    I take offense at being compared to a terrorist. A patriot would be more fitting.
    Linux User 147560
    • Attitude, not action

      Terrorism is an attitude, not a set of actions. Certainly, the vast majority of the Open Source community are not "terrorists", just as the vast majority of religious people aren't terrorists. But the scorched-earth attitude so common to terrorism can be seen in a small group of fanatical open-source supporters. And unfortunately, just as with other terrorists, this small group is vocal and visual enough to taint the whole movement, just as fanatical Christian or Muslim terrorists taint entire religions, and fanatical political extremists taint entire political parties. As I mentioned above, just because the "anarchist" segment is small doesn't mean there isn't a "war" going on.

      The best way to combat this problem is through education and the distancing of the true Open Source community from such fanatics. When the majority of the Open Source community stays quiet (or even approves) while (for example) Microsoft platforms and users are attacked with no thought to collateral damage, and while terms such as "evil" and "enemy" are bandied about, the entire community will be tainted by such extremists. Just as the Open Source community has tended to judge the entire Microsoft user community by the actions of a few.

      And just as an aside, pretty much all "terrorists" consider themselves "patriots". It's all in who's defining the terms. :)

      Carl Rapson
      • Then by yout statement

        "[B]And just as an aside, pretty much all "terrorists" consider themselves "patriots". It's all in who's defining the terms. :)[/B]"

        The US was founded by terrorists... interesting. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
        • Sure

          According to the British, they were. As well as traitors.

          Again, it's all in who writes the history.

          Carl Rapson
          • Terrorism is a tactic

            Terrorism is not a person. It's a tactic. Don't confuse nouns and verbs.

            The U.S. has used what would be described as terrorism in many instances throughout its history.

            Why was Doolittle's famous 1942 raid on Tokyo undertaken? To terrorize the populace, and let them know we were going to destroy them. Which we did.

            The fact that WWII was a "good" war, a "declared" war, doesn't have anything to do with the description. Terrorism is a verb in this case, not a noun. And it's values-neutral.
          • Reverb

            Ok so what other verbs can be used? Now that you have given a lesson on grammer today. How about Liberty and freedom .. in action oh look "action" discribes the verb! (notice my interjection!) The "Dork" (a noun) uses the word Attack (a verb) offten and "guerrilla"

            Forget it! Give this guy an Ak-47 and point him in the direction of... hmmm (guess I gotta pick one) KDE?

            Can you answer the question or not? Who is he talking about? Who's attacking?
      • Re: Attitude, not action

        [i]Terrorism is an attitude, not a set of actions.[/i]

        I wouldn't go that far. I don't want to start jailing folks because of their attitudes.

        [i]When the majority of the Open Source community stays quiet (or even approves) while (for example) Microsoft platforms and users are attacked with no thought to collateral damage, and while terms such as "evil" and "enemy" are bandied about, the entire community will be tainted by such extremists.[/i]

        I couldn't agree more. I just don't understand why you're so selective in your criticism?

        [url=]This article proves once again that ALL linsux users are blithering idiots[/url]

        [url=]Only a real idiot would switch to Linsucks.[/url]

        [url=]It'll be more peaceful without all them whiney little bitches called linsux users.[/url]

        [url=]Stupid linux users. Go back to your basements.[/url]

        none none
      • And what about... ?

        [i]...and while terms such as "evil" and "enemy" are bandied about, the entire community will be tainted by such extremists.[/i]

        What about terms like "cancerous" and "unAmerican" bandied about referring to free software? Not just by knuckleheads posting in the Talkbacks, but by no less than the CEO of Microsoft? What about likening the free software movement to terrorism by ZDNet - and yourself?

        You have a point criticising the attacks on Microsoft you mention by ZDNet posters. But it's lost when you couch it in the rhetoric of terrorism and completely ignore the attacks on free software by CEOs and the media.

        none none
    • Robb was describing a process

      The comparison wasn't made. Robb doesn't say you're a terrorist. I don't say it either.

      But the process being used by open source developers has many similarities to what terrorists are doing today.

      That's Robb's point.
      • Not even close

        Janet Reno once said "They have computers and wepons of mass distruction!" The fact is they have everything the powers in the world sold or left them. Not to mention all kinds of media like the Internet to post hostage killing and even the use of televison broadcast.

        I know what Robb means, but it's a heartless comparison don't you think? Terrorist might use open source sometimes but they could use windows just as well or a Mac or whatever.

        I think by comparison, Piracy of Products is a better example. Look at Russia, China, and even Japan. You can buy whatever you want on the black market. I was an Intel IPD and Intel used words like gray and black markets.

        Open Source is Open, out in the "Open world" not hiding a thing not riping off anything. Explain which developers have these similarites?

        Not picking on you Dana. But I think it's sick and twisted to Compair. Did any of these Open souce developers have lawsuits filed on them and pay like $775million?

        "oh look no pop-up ad's and no spam in my inbox" Wonder why?
      • The irony is

        the same tactics or process as you wish to call it are being used and have been used by the big boys as well... Microsoft, IBM, Sun Microsystems... to name a few. At some point in time they have done the very same thing... so that would mean, following the context of meaning of course, the open source folks are following the examples of those before them.
        Linux User 147560
      • Re: Robb was describing a process

        [i]But the process being used by open source developers has many similarities to what terrorists are doing today.

        That's Robb's point.[/i]

        That's it? That's the point?

        What are we to make of that?

        Tip of the hat to rapson for acknowledging that not [i]all[/i] free (as in speech) software users are terrorists.

        none none
  • Super powers

    The community isn't in this war because it only has the tools to create useful software to share with others. It is not in million dollar marketing,lawsuit, and acquisition wars to defeat it's competitor.

    This is much different, Big blues, and Giants take the software from the open source community (it's free) and use it on one another. Or in some cases rip it off from one another because they have the power and money to do so.

    However, These Super powers can't fight the community of people who have done nothing but create and share without cheating, stealing, and screwing one another. With BTW, the tools that were created for the public to use.

    There is nothing to fight the Open source community for, we have nothing but art in the form of code. What? take it away like a Hitler? Outlaw the use of c++,GTK,free compilers? Who do they really belong to? Microsoft? Sun? IBM?

    We all fight hackers. Hackers get in because of stupid people, people with more marketing in mind than security. I guess all the ad-ware is the fault of Open source too? Could someone please explain MS's recent response to Claria?

    Yeah take another toke from the Huka! In fact that's a pretty sad compairison given the fact that lives are really at stake in the "real" war!
  • Strange analogy

    I wonder who Robb's target audience was. It SOUNDS like he was making the comparison in order to communicate the power of open source. To certain people (those who are EXCITED by the notion of viewing open source as a WAR, which is a bizarre way to look at anything associated with SOFTWARE), that might resonate, but to MOST people, I would think it doesn't.

    If I were going to make a comparison to show the advantages of a proprietary model, I wouldn't use the Gambino family.
    John Carroll
  • Problems with the Super villain mentality

    If you have not seen it yet, download a copy of the BBC documentary "The Power of Nightmares"

    Even if you do not agree with the ultimate conclusion of Adam Curtis, the documentary gives a precise account of the development of the extreme fundamentalist Islamist movement.

    It's become very evident that the is no centrally organized system under the direction of James Bond style super villains. What there is a bunch of groups connected only by ideology.
    David Mohring
  • I agree with Rapson on this... that I live with terrorists in the same way as MS lives with open source. I know they are there, I know they will attack at some point but, provided my intelligence of them is accurate and up to date I can limit the damage that they can achieve - which is EXACTLY what Microsoft are doing regarding open source. People foolishly attribute MS as being a lazy company that ignores its competitors, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It has shown over recent years that it can change its direction and stance to respond to the challenges it faces from the "dark side" - hence they are limiting the effectiveness of the "attack".
  • balance point to be found

    The label "terrorist" can be put on either side of this issue.
    Closed Source:
    1 hidden code and code bombs littering the landscape
    2 ELUAs hiding important clauses in dense tangles of legal jibberish
    3 programs with deliberate flaws (the Office 97 thing where it could not read Office 95 files??)

    Open Source:
    1 Use of High end tools to break into programs
    and file formats
    2 Live Free or DIE! attitude
    3 massive networking with little or no accountability (work as groups of groups)

    LongHorn and the next version of Office will be
    Microsofts Normandy (they lose 1 trouble they lose both ....)