Open Source Software empowers our technological world. It underpins our global digital communications network and is included in, or utilised by, all your favourite websites and internet applications. The concept of open source is liberating: if you find something wrong with the software or think that you can improve it then you are free to make the change - giving back to the community or even releasing a new version that you've improved. If you need any more background on what open source software is then check out the Open Source Initiative's Frequently Asked Questions.
Of course open source software is about more than just editing software - when your source code is shared publicly you are held accountable to a higher level of quality, transparency of process and even better security of your software. When the world is watching (and if you hope they will want to get involved) then documentation has to be better, builds have to work and setup needs to be easy. To learn more about how Open Source could help your business check out clearcode’s top 7 ways.
As you can see many of these benefits would be desirable in commercial software teams as well - the accountability can fit well with business objectives and so many companies practice “internal open source”. But if this is great for business then why do we see so few businesses really engaging in the open source community? Some seem to struggle to give back but many fall at the first hurdle to any open source adoption - missing out on all the benefits above. The reasons behind this are many and varied and will be the topic of many future blog posts. In the meantime why not read Ben Pfaff’s “Why Open Source Software is Better for Society”