Editing and the Crisis of Open Source Essay

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Editing and the Crisis of Open Source

The Free Software movement that began in 1985 and the newer "open source" movement, represented a serious threat to traditional methods of production and distribution. The idea of a non-proprietary method of cultural exchange was and is a radical departure from traditional models that have come to restrict creativity and free exchange. In the ensuing years, there was a gradual drift away from ideas of non-proprietary toward ideas of access to software’s code level. This mirrored an evident diffusion of these “open” ideas into the cultural sphere. Open publishing, open editing, open music, and open culture are now hip buzzwords that point toward a new cultural formation based on a more free exchange
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Wikipedia.org, an open source encyclopedia, describes this conflict of terms.

It was hoped that the usage of the newer term “open source” would eliminate such ambiguity, and would also be easier to “market” to business users (who might mistakenly associate “free software” with anti-commericalism). Since its introduction, however, the “open source” label has been criticized for fostering an ambiguity of a different kind: that of confusing it for mere availability of the source, rather than the freedom to use, modify, and redistribute it.

One of the early defects of “free” software was the perceived inability to use it in for-profit ventures. Whereas the Free Software movement thinks of the freedom of software’s code to be available to all as an ethical and social imperative, open source treats it as a practical issue. Both GPL and open source licenses can be used in for-profit ventures. “Copylefted” material must remain “free” for people to modify, but can be priced for people to buy.

With the advent of the term open source, it now appears that everything is open source, or is at least sold that way. When not applied to programming, “open content” is used to describe a wide range of activities that have nothing to do with computer software. There is still the problem of
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