Open source is bigger?
Friday, August 25, 2000 by Dave Winer.
Rocky Mountain High
This piece is brought to you by John Denver, singing Rocky Mountain High.
His heart still knows some fear, while they try to tear the mountains down, to bring in a couple more. More people, more scars upon the land. He'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly. Yeh yeh yeah. I've seen it raining fire in the sky. Friends around a campfire and everybody's high. Highhhhhh. High. High. Highhhhh.
It's quite a song
I never thought much about John Denver. A nice guy, he died a few years ago in a plane crash.
Today for some weird reason his song brings a tear to my eye. I believe a 27-year old man can be reborn. Can discover something beautiful just in itself, no improvement needed. Why pave over something that's beautiful? Why turn something objective and pure into something merely useful?
These are just questions I ask myself. If you know the answers, let me know.
"Shadows from the starlight are softer than a lullabye."
The thread continues
As I work on my Music-on-the-Internet software, my exploration into open source continues.
I think that open source is far bigger than anyone realizes. I become more convinced of this as the discussion continues on our websites. Programmers are generous people. It's not us versus anyone, programmers often like to help each other. This is good!
Think of it this way. A responsible doctor does community service work, a lawyer does pro bono work for causes he or she supports. Commercial software developers, people who do it for money, often also give away their work for the same reasons other professionals do. It's a way to *spend* money to make the world a better place, to help people, to make new friends, to be positive, to give back.
"Seeking grace in every step he takes."
Getting to the core
I want to find out, in almost mathematical terms, what's necessary and sufficient for a software release to be considered open source.
Here's a story that helps raise the question.
In April 1997 I needed handle-based C code to do base64 encoding and decoding. I looked around the net and didn't find what I needed. So I created the code, using the stuff I found as a starting point. I tested the new code to be sure it interoperated with previous implementations.
Then I released the source code. No license agreement. Also no restrictions on what anyone could do with it.
Now here's the question.
Is this open source?
You can participate
The survey is on the Web here:
UserLand.Com membership is required, and free.
You have only one vote, but you can change it.
If you have an opinion, one way or the other, I hope you participate.