Can open source be applied to warfare?

Can open source be applied to warfare?

Summary: Robb seems to be saying that central control doesn't work, whether that's the control of a government or an outside force. The resulting balance may not be to your liking, but it's something that can be lived with

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TOPICS: Open Source
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John Robb, author of Brave New WarJohn Robb (left) has spent the last few years writing about the open source process as applied to warfare, most notably in his book Brave New War.

He says the good guys may finally be getting the upper hand by applying those lessons.

When faced with terrorist militias, he suggests, allow the organic creation of counter-militia forces. An example is what happened in Iraq's Anbar province, which the Bush Administration now trumpets as a success.

These forces may be beyond your control, just as an open source company may lack control over add-on developers. But they can hold chaos at bay long enough for forces of globalization, like economic growth and trade, to create peace.

Robb's post may have serious lessons for open source projects, such as:

  1. Allow the agendas of developers to direct progress.
  2. Don't force development in your own direction, except through your own investment.
  3. Fragmentation is better than chaos.

Mainly, Robb seems to be saying that central control doesn't work, whether that's the control of a government or an outside force. The resulting balance may not be to your liking, but it's something that can be lived with.

Come to think of it, there are lessons for proprietary companies here as well.

Topic: Open Source

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  • Mission vs. Function

    "Fragmentation is better than chaos."

    Really, this is the same old mission vs. function dilemma. If you want high performance, you have to allow a relatively high level of fragmentation/duplication of effort and disorder.

    This always upsets some folks, as I wrote about a while back (http://realcurrents.blogsome.com/2006/09/13/purpose-driven-churches/), but certainly it's important to get high performance in a wartime situation. Gaining order would be pretty much pointless if there's no stability.

    It would be great if the government learned something from the open source movement!
    grvaughan