Bri Colorful

Keep to the Code

Posted on: September 15, 2010

“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. . . men do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

— Niccolò Machiavelli

Today I learned about open source software, more specifically open source browsers.  So as I understand it, software is created from “code” which to me just sounds so funny. . . like “the force” in Star Wars, but “the code” in geek wars. This code is generally kept secret or blocked from the access of everyday geeks. Why? Well, if they could get at the code, they could change the software to suit their own needs and maybe even redistribute it.

Well, that’s exactly the intention of the open source software movement. Right now I’m typing this post in Google Chrome (my browser of choice); sometimes I also like to use Mozilla Firefox. Both of these browsers are open source. That means people cleverer than I (i.e. who know “the code”) can change it and even submit their changes to whomever distributes the software and see them in the newest updates of that software. This way we all benefit from each other … well, at least, we all benefit from those who speak the code.

The whole idea kind of pools into one of open-intelligence versus copyright. Either you believe when you learn something, you should be paid to share it and you “keep to the closed code” OR you share the wealth (of knowledge) and trust the philosophy that many eyes make good work. What’s your take? Should software code be free?


3 Responses to "Keep to the Code"

Heck YES! I’ve always wanted to learn “the code.” 😉

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I like it for OS and keeping closed code honest in pricing, but it tales away a lot of the incentive for developers to know they will not be paid for their app. Some projects are so large and unprofitable that only open source would take them on. It’s also great for dev education to get to see how a feature in an app is done.

I agree with Dad A. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. People work hard on “the code” and should be rewarded for their effort and expertise. On the other hand, there are some great opportunities for collaboration when it’s free. I think I’m more sensitive to things like this because my husband is a musician who wants to potentially sell some music. He puts a lot of hard work into his stuff. Should that necessarily be free? Again, it depends.

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