My Mom made a nice soup. Before I sat on writing this article I was just savoring it. The point is not just the soup, but the way she makes soup which is kind of a family secret, my aunt, my granny all makes soup with similar taste profile. What does the soup have to do with the technology, and more importantly with the open sourcing of technology? I would continue telling about soup rather than any other technologies, soup can be made more thick by adding some corn flour, but it wont add any thing to the nutrient value of the soup, thus my mom prefers adding more tomato and few of more spices to make it much better for us. What I just told you has been told to many others with much more amount of details by my mom. This is what you can call open sourcing of a recipe, where in all the details of making that particular kind of tomato soup is to be free to use by anyone and everyone. What I just told you is a very common and age old phenomenon and its not just limited to India, but is common to whole human race.
After dealing with the open sourcing in an analogous manner, I would jump more towards technology. As human race developed, we saw more and more technological advancements, few people will take this otherwise, they will say that as we made more and more technological advancements, we as a race developed more and more. When we talk of technological development then the most happening of all the centuries was the last century, where we saw the inventions of microchip and related technologies. But with the advent of more sophisticated and advance technologies the parity among the human race also increased. Rich, which had more control over technology became more rich and the poor which was away from those advancements became poorer. For getting the feel of what I am trying to say you can take any piece of technology. Lets take computer, for that matter, which I am currently using to write this article. I am quite rich in comparison to many poor, and thus I am using it for my personal development, I am trying to learn more and more, in hope that more learning will make me further richer, thus increasing disparity. Similarly at the other end where a poor is not having computer at his arms end, will remain further away from latest technology, will be away from latest information which he may use for his advantage. In this way we have a twin sided growth in disparity. So we can easily conclude that, technology, be it of any type, plays a large role in development.
So what does open sourcing have to do with all this? Quite a bit. What open sourcing do is that it increases the reach of technology. There is whole lot of economics behind it, which I am quite unaware of. In lay man terms I can tell that open sourcing easily cut down the prices as it takes away the royalty away from the picture. Under open sourcing one just discloses how a particular thing was made and what are the exact specification, which thus can be easily replicated. Said that, open sourcing also takes away the profits and advantages of being the first.
Development of any technology is a part of a cycle, previous step produces enough funds for fueling the next step of product development, and it goes on and on. So if at any step profits start dipping then there will always be problem with the next step of development. So where does this brings to us…it brings us to the same position where we are. A rut from which we just can’t run away. Still picture is not that gloomy, there are some silver linings. Those silver linings are coming from software industry, where we are seeing more and more free software matching the industry standards. Industry though not blooming but still we can see some fresh free flowers. And the force is coming from community. Behind every open source software there is an active community which is spending time to develop these software. Open source not only reduces the money gap but also the initiates the involvement of community. Involvement of community makes software more adoptable by the community, and more as per the need of community. Thus open sources have dual advantages, it not only reduces the price but also helps in localizing the piece of technology. Much in the same way, the soup’s recipe which my Mom told to some aunty and then that aunty adds or reduces few things as per her family.
Is the picture becoming rosier…nope…answer is no. There are far too many obstacles, and one of them is money. Other obstacles include the irregularity in the development, or in other terms under development. The other thing is that open sourcing is currently only prominent in the software industry, and is yet to come to physical world. To explain, we are not having any situation where we have any exemplary blender which can churn the tomatoes in some special manner and then every one knows how to make that type of blender. Hardware are far away from open source and this yet again brings us to disparity. Moreover its not just limited to software and hardware but also to latest development in medicines and other technologies. Here in the latest developments are under some particular domain and not under common man’s control.
Said that, and explained all so much and yet so less, I think I have at least sparked a thought inside your brain, which may prompt you to think in lines of open sourcing and supporting the open source technology, be it hardware, software or any kind of ware, including kitchen wares.
Thanks to Mom for making such a wonderful soup which made me write this article.