"The Cathedral and the Bazaar"


Okay, I’ve finished reading The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Raymond and I must say that I am now far more educated on the subject of “open source”. From a purely “book review” perspective, Raymond does a wonderful job of balancing the conceptual issues with the more technical examples related to open source. I actually think that he presents the open source “argument” (if you will) very convincingly – on many levels, I am now “convinced”. The essays are easy to read, and he does a good job of leading the reading through a series of logical arguments and thread of thoughts.

Basically, the argument for open source is that development costs are reduced to almost zero, as tiny contributions from the community of contributors add up – in a sense, it’s like the principle behind parallel computing. Raymond makes an interesting observation that we shouldn’t try and push open source concepts to things that are not software related, and i think I would tend to agree. The conditions for software are unique to this area, and are not easily duplicated in other areas (this is not to suggest open source models cannot be used in other domains). I also found Raymond’s argument that open source isn’t a binary state, but rather the natural evolution of software, wherein software begins in a more or less “closed source” state and then matures, and ultimately becomes “open source” to be very interesting.

Personal thoughts

I don’t feel as if I am able to articulate cogent counter-responses to the evidence and arguments presented by Raymond. What I wish he was able to do, is examine in what ways the “closed source” model has served us, and why it is breaking down. Perhaps this statement is a reflection of my unconscious clinging to the “closed source” model. I ask the question, for which I didn’t receive a completely convincing argument – when is it advantageous to be closed source? Raymond presents a few examples, but I would have liked a little more explanation on the examples – it was as if he thinks that almost all software will ultimately move toward open source.

What I must agree with, however, is this notion that software cannot be viewed within a manufacturing or product model. I think that the evidence demonstrating this aspect is pretty clear.

More thoughts as open source relates to eHealth…


One response to “"The Cathedral and the Bazaar"”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Glad to see your back …

    Hope you will posting on the Centre’s new blog … when it’s up.