Posted by: commonsresource | August 25, 2010

What’s in a name? Pt. 2 – Open Source & Horseless Carriages

If you can please pardon me for not posting for a while, I would like to take you back to my post entitled What’s in a name? In that very early post, I both commended Red Hat for its initiative and critiqued Red Hat and others for their confusing use of terms like the “open source way”.  While these terms may have helped in the early days when the open source software model was “being viewed as a model for collaboration beyond software”, these transitional terms are now the modern equivalent of the “horseless carriage”!

While some people (like my “horsey” daughter) may continue to be fond of describing the modern automobile as a horseless carriage, there is much more at stake than quaintness. The continued use of the term is more than merely confusing it actually misleads us into thoughts about horses and carriages that have no real place or connection with my Honda Civic.

In the same way, the continued use of terms like the “open source way” may mislead us into thoughts about “open” and “source” that have no real place or connection with the underlying instance of “commons sourcing”.  Or as Matt Asay points out as part of his Can Open Source Be Saved From Itself? post on GigaOM, “Open-source licensing never deserved the single-minded devotion so many of us paid to it. It’s a starting point — a means — but not the end goal.”  The most interesting things that are happening in this space may, in fact, not be “open” or “source” or “licensing”.

It is time for all of us to set aside our “horseless carriage” language of the past and embrace powerful and descriptive terms like “commons sourcing”.  And by the way, my original offer to contribute my domain: to the cause still stands!

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