O'Reilly and Kapor on Open Source

I've posted an impressionistic transcript of the Mitch Kapor/Tim O'Reilly conversation on open source at PC Forum.

Mitch: OSS has grown up — it's no longer just one thing. People are taking the idea in different directions: MySQL is a for-profit, OSS company that gives away 99.9% of its product. Their customers modify the technology and don't necessarily distribute the source, and pay millions for that privelege. And of course there's OSAF, a non-profit that's doing something complimentary to biz, investing in core development that people can build commercial apps atop of. We're the nonprofit piece of what will become a larger ecology.

Tim: Ecology is the best way to think about this. Don't focus on licensing — that misses the point. OSS is about technqiues for building an architecture for collaboratively building apps, including the technique of disclosing your code. But there are lots of open-source-like Internet Era activities, like the WWW's "view source," which made it easy for anyone to copy any neat feature. It makes it easy for people to join the party, which is the heart of OSS.

The Internet is changing the way we think about software. What would it mean for Amazon or Google — both built on OSS technology — to release their code? The value of Amazon and Google is the giant data-center, not the software. By allowing public participation in the service, through their API, they've created an architecture of participation that is at the heart of the OSS story. It's not about free versus proprietary — it's about how inclusive you are.