10 September 2006

Linus' Law and International Trade

If any proof were needed that open source has wide ramifications, consider this:

the open source software adage, known as Linus' Law (that "with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow") is coming to apply to international trade and the global behavior of multinational corporations. With enough observers, all trade is transparent, whether the interests involved want it to be or not.

This is important, because for certain products - diamonds, for example - lack of transparency is crucial:

Diamond merchants depended on a veil of secrecy about the origins of their stones to protect them from the consequences of their trade. Global Witness realized that if it could tear down that veil, consumers would react with horror and disgust to the reality they saw

For example, they would learn that

the international trade in diamonds has destabilized whole regions and promoted criminal regimes. They have helped fuel the genocidal Congo wars and kept Angola in chaos. They are intimately tied to the black market in weapons. Terrorists even traffic in them to finance their plots. And these "blood diamonds" are sold in large numbers, by the billions of dollars, on the diamond bourses of Antwerp and other cities.

As well as diamonds, there is much to reveal about illegal logging and oil, and it's good to know that hackers have pioneered processes that are playing an important role here.

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