Why We Need Open Source to Succeed

How many people enjoy proprietary software? How many of you like to tinker or “hack” things you bought and rightfully own? How many of you like being tied down to the “one model fits all” idea and tampering with that model could result in serve consequences? Don’t get me wrong, I believe in IP (Intellectual Property) and every company is entitled to that, but there are those who like free and open alternatives to its proprietary counterparts.

Enter Open Source. Many of you might have heard the term “Open Source” and probably never gave it much thought and if you have, your first thought was probably about Linux. For many, Linux is the culmination of the what Open Source brought to the table and it shows how far the Open Source Community has progressed since it first began. However, beyond just Linux, Open Source is so much more. It’s the collaboration of many to solve a universal problem without receiving any tangible reward, to want to find solutions just because a problem exists, and lastly it’s the notion that whatever is created should be distributed freely for everyone to experience.

Those who develop with the Open Source Community do so because they’re trying to find solutions to problems where others cannot or don’t want to. This mentality has led to some extremely innovative and gaming changing technologies that most of us take for granted. To name a few:

1) OSE (Open Source Education) – self explanatory, but definitely worth checking out. It helps many kids in Third World Countries who don’t have the opportunity to get a formal education.

2) ApacheTHE web server…This software runs and powers most of the internet you see today and its allows for many people to host there own web servers for free.

3) WordPress – The website/blog Content Management System that allows College Info Geek and many other sites to communicate, distribute, and share information with users everywhere on the internet.

I’ve only named a few from a varied list of technologies that have come from the Open Source Community, but I think it’s important to see that with enough dedicated and driven people, problems can be solved with the Open Source mentality.

Now companies like Microsoft and Apple, both who hold huge market shares in both hardware and software, are very important to both end users and the Open Source community. However, the reason I am so passionate about Open Source is because it allows for anyone to contribute in there own ways. For many, this means contributing via programming and developing software. However, even more than that, Open Source has become a word that we now associate with the thought that anyone’s ideas are valid and can be added to the greater whole; granted those ideas must conform to the Open Source Standards. Even so, Open Source encourages free thinking, collaborative thought, and individual customization for a lot of what’s offered, which in the end is the reason I think Open Source has succeeded for so long and will continue to do so.

Open Source isn’t the answer for everything and nor will it be. However, what Open Source gives end users is options; and options, are always good. My next post will be about Open Source alternatives that many of you should consider using if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on proprietary software and instead get for free. Be on the look out for the post.

Comments and feedback as always welcome!

Andrew is a junior in MIS at Iowa State University, an Android hacker, and a dedicated open source geek. Check out his personal site and follow him on Twitter here.

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