To hear UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown tell it, open source advocates have won their fight to force open the BBC iPlayer to other platforms. (The door of the Prime Minister's residence, 10 Downing Street, as shown by the BBC today.)
Yeah. Open source wins. Right?
Not necessarily. Brown was being very clever in his comments today. Following delivery of a petition with 16,000 names on it, Brown only suggested that the BBC Trust itself was agreeing to support Mac and Linux iPlayers, and said the government would review its decision over the next six months.
For Americans who have never heard of Dr. Who and who think football means just the Baltimore Ravens, there is a very important lesson here.
Many questions concerning open source are going to be politicized over the next several years. Proprietary platforms will seek to maintain their advantages as government increasingly turns to the Internet as a medium. Open source advocates will fight back.
Thus, what politicians say, how they say it, and what they really mean will have to be parsed carefully. Call it doublespeak, call it gobbledygook, call it CYA, it's all important.
The market momentum for open source can be slowed by governments, or sped up by governments. Thus, open source becomes political, and those in the open source advocates are forced to listen, carefully, to what politicians of every stripe say.
Notice that door at the top of this post again. It's black. It's opaque. Glass might look better, but don't hold your breath for it.