Subject: Re: Choardic Commons
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 17:33:00 -0700

On 6/25/02 3:39 PM, "Brian Behlendorf" <> wrote:

> I find it curious when people don't think that collaboration is
> *essential* to getting one's job done.  Open source tends to get pitched
> as an all-or-nothing proposition; this makes it tough to see it in the
> context of collaboration that happens today in almost every field.  Many
> companies, even competitors, work together on projects of
> non-differentiating value, and then compete elsewhere.

I'm with Brian.  I sometimes feel that the whole licensing issue is a
massive smokescreen that keeps people from seeing what open source is really
about.  It's a suite of techniques for facilitating distributed
collaboration.  Open source licenses are a means, not an end.  And there are
other means that are equally important:

* Ubiquitous networking, so contributions can easily be shared. (Open source
had much less reach in the days when you had to ship a 9-track tape.)

* Techniques for updating distributed code repositories, starting with Larry
Wall's patch, and moving up through CVS and version control systems.

* Mailing lists for discussion.

* Processes for capturing, deciding on, and acting on user input.

And many of these techniques apply to far more than software.  The human
genome project and other bioinformatics efforts, for instance, are pushing
the envelope of what "source code access" means, when people are sharing and
updating multi-terabyte distributed databases, and not just the software to
manage them.

Understanding what we can learn about collaborative development from open
source is one of the key challenges for both the fsb and proprietary
software worlds.

BTW, the whole opposition between collaboration and competition takes on a
very different cast when you think about Eric Raymond's observation in The
Magic Cauldron that far more software is written for use than for sale.
Open source businesses are not necessarily businesses that sell software.
They are businesses that USE software, and whose use is enhanced by sharing
it with other people who use the same software.

ISPs, web design firms...heck, virtually any company with a web site can
benefit from collaborating to improve Apache, or PHP, or mySQL, or...  Their
business isn't based on getting some competitive advantage by selling
software that no one else has, but in using that software in their own field
of endeavor.

P.S.  The correct spelling is chaordic.  (Sorry.  I can't help being an

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472