Perspectives on Open
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The slides from my keynote at the Open Courseware Consortium annual meeting on May 4, 2011

The slides from my keynote at the Open Courseware Consortium annual meeting on May 4, 2011

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  • PC revolution started with a bunch of hackers -- homebrew computer club. Went through an entrepreneurial explosion, the equivalent of the dot com bust, and then the world we know today. \n
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  • The result was the Wintel Duopoly we love to hate, with systems assembled from commodity parts, but with a sole-source processor from Intel and (up till now) a sole-source operating system from Microsoft.\n
  • In other words, with our mindset shaped by the desktop application stack, we imagined the pattern replaying itself like this. We accept intel inside, and love the cheap commodity PCs, but we imagined proprietary software being replaced by free and open source applications at the top of the stack. Red Hat or maybe SuSe would displace Microsoft, MySql would displace Oracle, and so on.\n
  • But instead, we got a world that looks like this. (Describe the graph.)\n
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  • Important not just to think about Linux!\n
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  • Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christiansen sums up this situation with something he calls “the law of conservation of attractive profits.”\n
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  • Getting specific, I’m going to talk about design patterns that fit three separate sub-contexts. And you’ll see that some of these patterns seemingly have little to do with open source. But I believe that they are direct outcomes of the software commodification that open source and open standards are driving, and that we need to understand what kinds of businesses are going to be built using these patterns, even if some of them seem quite foreign to open source ideals.\n
  • The result was the Wintel Duopoly we love to hate, with systems assembled from commodity parts, but with a sole-source processor from Intel and (up till now) a sole-source operating system from Microsoft.\n
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Perspectives on Open Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Perspectives on “Open” Tim O’Reilly O’Reilly Media Open Courseware Consortium May 4, 2011
  • 2. I started out as a computer book publisher
  • 3. What We Really Do At OReilly Find interesting technologies and people innovating from the edge Amplify their effectiveness by spreading the information needed for others to follow them. Our goal: “Changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators.”
  • 4. Some Examples  Created our first ebook - 1987  First books on Linux and Perl - 1991  First book on the internet - 1992  Wrote about WWW when there were only 200 web sites - 1992  Launched first commercial web site, 1993  First conference talk on web services - 1997  Organized meeting where term “open source” was adopted - 1998  Coined the term “Web 2.0” in 2004 to help restart enthusiasm in the computer industry  Launched Make: magazine in 2005 to celebrate the new frontier in physical computing
  • 5. “The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” - William Gibson
  • 6. Watch the Alpha Geeks •New technologies first exploited by hackers, then entrepreneurs, then platform players •Three examples –Screen scraping predicts web services –Wireless community networks predict universal Wi-Fi –Open source software predicts other forms of collaborative development, and prefigures the “participation age” of Web 2.0 and social networking Rob Flickenger and his potato chip can antenna
  • 7. Pattern Recognition We all have mental models of the world that serve as maps that guide what we see and do These maps can be more or less correct
  • 8. Alfred Korzybski: General Semantics
  • 9. “The map is not the territory.”
  • 10. Free Software - the key issue is one of rights and licenses Free software is a matter of the users freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it means that the programs users have the four essential freedoms: ■ The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0). ■ The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. ■ The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2). ■ The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • 11. Open source - the key is development methodology “The Cathedral and the Bazaar is an essay by Eric S. Raymond on software engineering methods, based on his observations of the Linux kernel development process and his experiences managing an open source project, fetchmail. It examines the struggle between top-down and bottom-up design. It was first presented by the author at the Linux Kongress on May 27, 1997 in Würzburg and was published as part of a book of the same name in 1999.”
  • 12. Unix and the Internet - an architecture of participation “The book is perhaps most valuable for its exposition of the Unix philosophy of small cooperating tools with standardized inputs and outputs, a philosophy that also shaped the end-to- end philosophy of the Internet. It is this philosophy, and the architecture based on it, that has allowed open source projects to be assembled into larger systems such as Linux, without explicit coordination between developers.”
  • 13. The Architecture of Participation "I couldnt have written a new kernel for Windows even if I had the source code. The architecture just doesnt support that kind of thing." (paraphrasing Linus Torvalds)
  • 14. “The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.” -Edwin Schlossberg
  • 15. http://openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2000/12/05/book_ch01_meme.html
  • 16. http://openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2000/12/05/book_ch01_meme.html
  • 17. “I’m an inventor. I became interested in long term trends because an invention has to make sense in the world in which it is finished, not the world in which it is started.” -Ray Kurzweil
  • 18. The PC Revolution 1981: IBM PC built of commodity components Market expands a million-fold, breaking IBM’s industry dominance Intel becomes the key component supplier: Intel Inside Dell becomes #1 vendor by embracing commodity economics; IBM eventually abandons market Value moves up the stack from hardware to software: IBM signs away future to Microsoft
  • 19. The Open Source Revolution 1991: Linux operating system built out of commodity components Market expands a million-fold, breaking Microsoft industry dominance? Key questions: – What does it mean to embrace the commodity economics of open source? – What is “up the stack” from software? – Who becomes the “Intel Inside” of open source?
  • 20. Desktop Application Stack Proprietary Software (Control by API) System Assembled from Standardized Commodity Components Some Hardware Components From a Single-Source Supplier
  • 21. Free and Open Source Software Cheap Commodity PCs Intel Inside
  • 22. Internet Application Stack Proprietary Software As a Service Integration of Commodity Components Apache Subsystem-Level Lock In
  • 23. The "Killer Apps” of the New Millenium
  • 24. The Open Source Application Platform Commodity Intel hardware The Internet protocol stack and utilities like BIND LAMP –Linux (or FreeBSD) –Apache –MySQL –PHP (or Perl, or Python) Platform-agnostic client front ends
  • 25. Another Paradigm Failure?  These LAMP applications are being created by open source developers and run on an open source platform, but… – Source code is not distributed (and it wouldnt be useful to many developers if it were) – Licenses triggered by binary software distribution have no effect – The value in these applications is in their data and their customer interactions more than in their software – Most are fiercely proprietary
  • 26. "The Law of Conservation of Attractive Profits" "When attractive profits disappear at one stage in the value chain because a product becomes modular and commoditized, the opportunity to earn attractive profits with proprietary products will usually emerge at an adjacent stage." -- Clayton Christensen Author of The Innovators Solution In Harvard Business Review, February 2004
  • 27. Beyond Licensing: the Three C’s The three deep trends: 1. Commoditization of software 2. User-Customizable systems and architectures 3. Network-enabled Collaboration
  • 28. So What Do We Need to Do? Use commodity software components to drive down prices for users Give customers increased opportunity for customization – Plug-replaceable standards-compliant components – Extensible architectures – Scripting support Provide open data web services Leverage collaborative development processes and participatory interfaces
  • 29. Key Lessons from Open Source  An architecture of participation means that your users help to extend your platform  Low barriers to experimentation mean that the system is "hacker friendly" for maximum innovation  Interoperability means that one component or service can be swapped out if a better one comes along  "Lock-in" comes because others depend on the benefit from your services, not because youre completely in control
  • 30. So how might all this apply to open courseware?
  • 31. First off, think deeply about what it is you really do
  • 32. Smaller pieces, modular design
  • 33. Develop in public
  • 34. Provide affordances for community (think social)
  • 35. An architecture of participation Don’t just measure how many people download or view your courses, measure how many people contribute to them Design them to be extensible “Small pieces loosely joined” is magic
  • 36. Create more value than you capture!
  • 37. In a gift culture, status comesnot from what we have or getbut from what we give away
  • 38. For more information My twitter feed @timoreilly My personal archive: http://tim.oreilly.com My blog: http://radar.oreilly.com