05 March 2008

Open Source Jahrbuch 2008

No good deed goes unpunished, they say.

A year ago, I wrote the following about the Open Source Jahrbuch series:

All-in-all, I'd go so far as to say that this is the best book on open source that has been published in the few years or so. Taken together, the whole series of Yearbooks form perhaps the most important collection of writings on open source and related areas to be found in any language.

As a result of those rash words, I was asked whether I'd like to contribute to this year's tome, which, as ever, is freely available as a download. If you want to practise your German, my 'umble effort is on page 299 (they obviously believe in saving the best for last....)

It begins thus:

Stallman's Golden Rule and the Digital Commons

In the wake of the high-profile successes of free software, the related movements of open access, open data, open content and the rest are starting to impinge on the public's consciousness. But when they do, they are generally seen as simple applications of the ideas behind free software – in other words, as imitations, albeit interesting ones. This misses the bigger picture: that, together, the combined results of their efforts form a vast and unprecedented digital commons of knowledge. The main obstacles to expanding that commons yet further are now legal, rather than technical. They are the result of political lobbying by content industries that have failed to adapt their thinking to a digital, rather than an analogue, world. The emerging viability of open source companies, which share their software freely with customers, points the way to new kinds of business models based on embracing rather than enclosing the commons.

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