This is a guest post by Dutch New Media student Edial Dekker
In 1986 Richard Stallman wrote his famous manifesto ‘The Free Software Definition’. It was later published by the Free Software Foundation. The text defines free software – free as in the ‘free as in freedom’ sense. The canonical lines of the text became the cornerstones of the GNU Project (later Linux). Today, the manifesto has been published in 39 languages. Open source isn’t new, it became viable when the first computer-like machine came down on earth.
Stallman wrote an impressive politically charged artwork of propositions and highly influential ideas about how free software should and could look like. Today, open source is, maybe more than ever, used as a very powerful political tool. Open-source has become a mean to become a serious competitor of large corporations like Microsoft, Apple and other giants. Led by Google and Mozilla, open source applications are a serious force to be reckoned with.
Chrome is a recent example of Google trying to make sure the competitors do not grow to large and competition is still on. Stallman formulated it this way:
‘The paradigm of competition is a race: by rewarding the winner, we encourage everyone to run faster. When capitalism really works this way, it does a good job; but its defenders are wrong in assuming it always works this way. If the runners forget why the reward is offered and become intent on winning, no matter how, they may find other strategies—such as, attacking other runners. If the runners get into a fist fight, they will all finish late.’
Obviously, getting a large piece of pie, or the whole pie for that matter, gives you a lot of advantages when you try to control other businesses. And even when you are not making enough money to keep your head up, going open source is a good way to strike back. No wonder Yahoo was celebrated for going opening up her search platform (BOSS), and no wonder Reddit is back on track and with many cool offspring’s every day.
Open source has become THE tool to fight the giants that can otherwise be very difficult to challenge. While the popularity of open source applications is growing by the minute, large corporations, who are trying to protect their monopolization, are losing ground every day. Google uses Chrome and Android to achieve this.
When will there be a serious open source search engine that will challenge Google?