A supporter of open-source software managed to take the spotlight away from the bazillion dollar man, Bill Gates, during the Windows creator’s visit to Beijing yesterday.
The unidentified man waited until Billy was finished congratulating some students at Beijing University, and then stormed the stage brandishing a sign stating: “Free Software, Open Source”
As might be guessed by this site’s use of WordPress and Joomla, and a number of other behind-the-scenes open-source projects (including Pligg for the Hao Hao Report) – I’m a huge open-source concept supporter.
There’s a lot of debate in intellectual property circles on the value of the open source concept, and some of it justified. However, I feel it offers a lot of advantages over traditional (keep the code secret) software. The biggest has to be that when you open up a project to a global community, you are not limited by the brain-pool of your staff. This is well illustrated by the growth of Mozilla Firefox popularity.
Though Internet Explorer still holds the lion’s share of the market (largely due to net-naivety and it being included with Windows), Firefox usage is growing exponentially, and has been the defacto industry leader (in terms of design, standards compliance and usability) for some time.
In China, Internet Explorer still leads the pack, but the (relatively unknown outside of China) Maxthon is pulling up second with 30% of the market share. Though not strictly an “open-source” concept, the made-in-China browser was founded on the same principles (read more about Maxthon).
The fact that the Chinese are quite loyal to the IE way of things, and that Maxthon is built around the IE engine, it’s no surprise that Chinese Web design practices centre around the Microsoft product, rather than going with standards compliant browsers. This can sometimes cause issues when viewing Chinese sites in anything other than IE.
Ok, I got a bit off topic there, but all this is to say that open source adoption in an increasingly tech-savvy population the size of China is going to create some excellent communities with some even more excellent results. Fittingly, the principles of open source are very communistic in nature – not the Maoist “put the uneducated farmer in head office” type of communism, but more the socialistic “we’ve all something to give, something to gain” branch.