Freedom of the press and open source

Via a circuitous route I stumbled across Doc Searls’s commentary “Cheap Talk: Why Open Source and silence don’t mix” It summarizes the wisdom of The Cluetrain Manifesto:

  1. Markets are conversations
  2. Talk is cheap
  3. Silence is fatal

Open source implicitly trusts and relies the conversations that comprise its markets. This is what makes open source fundamentally different than closed source. Not only can you do more with it (and to it) because everything about it is exposed, but it trusts you enough to disclose all of itself to you….

Open source [is] burning down Development as Usual. Why? Is it just because open source has more Goodness than closed source? No…. Open source has no secrets. It is inherently disclosing. And disclosures start conversations – and then do nothing to stop them.

So here’s the clue we’re talking about here: Outside the secret-keepers themselves, there is no demand for secrecy. No market for it. And since markets are conversations, you can’t use secrecy to make a market. Only to prevent one.

I’ve been thinking about this for days since I first read it and had to wade through my browser cache to find it again. Open source is about freedom and relies on rights similar to freedom of the press. Software patents and threats of software patents are dangerous. Having worked with the Mozilla project for years now, I still find it refreshing that they have nothing to hide. The project is developed in the open. Let’s keep the conversation going.