A blog for the enterprise open source community
Open source is in IT, but what about ET?Jay Lyman, January 28, 2009 @ 7:37 pm ET
To the disappointment of some and perhaps the relief of others, this blog is not about extra-terrestrials. No, instead it’s about a different ET, one that has far more relevance in the technology industry and open source software: energy technology. While current global economic conditions may have dimmed the brightness of ET and the business to burgeon around it, at least for now, it appears there is still ample opportunity for energy and technology to serve as solutions to many of today’s problems. The new U.S. administration under Obama, which we reported is seeking counsel on use of open source software, continues to keep energy high on its agenda as one prominent example.
Well-known American journalist and author Thomas Friedman wrote much about ET in his recent work, ‘Hot, Crowded and Flat,’ which covers the threats of a warming Earth and growing population, as well as the opportunities in solving the dilemmas, particularly energy. Friedman cites open source software as one of his ‘flatteners,’ a factor or impact that will work to level the competitive playing field on a global basis. Friedman demonstrates a decent understanding of open source, but I wonder what the role and impact of open source practices and strategies of sharing and openness will be within the emergent energy technology industry.
Free and open source software has certainly had a far-reaching and deep impact on enterprise software development and business and arguably on the IT industry as a whole. Will any of the entrants into ET see the potential to take this tool of development and distribution to help spread the next best forms of power generation, distribution and use?
There are some precedents to look at: open source has for some time played a role in biotechnology, where researchers see more benefit in collaborating than in competing on many aspects of their sophisticated research.
We’ve also reported on Collaborative Software Initiative, the startup from former OSDL director Stuart Cohen that is finding a place for open source style collaboration among giants in finance, public health and safety and other areas.
With open source software and the principles of transparency, collaboration, flexibility, innovation and quality that go along with it finding their way into so many verticals and industries, it seems logical open source will have a role to play in ET. The extent of that role may help determine the winners and losers in this emerging space.
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