Keep It Open

Published Date
01 - Jun - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jun - 2006
Keep It Open
"Software is only the beginning. We now have to challenge to keep open other sources of content: music, text, even ideas".

Each time I have had the pleasure of visiting India, I have been overwhelmed by the creativity and talent of its people, and the growing acceptance of open source software. India is a country steeped in history and driving towards a positive future.

Unburdened by the legacy of closed models that are common in other places around the world, India has moved forward on its own ingenuity, building on the technology foundations of Linux and open source software.

Open source is creating opportunities on a global scale. Building an environment for unprecedented collaboration. Generating value for the enterprise. Allowing the ability for companies and countries to compete in a worldwide market.

In the open source model, innovation has no borders. There are no restrictions. Whether you're building software in Silicon Valley or Mumbai.

It's clear that the restrictive nature common to proprietary software is eroding. The cracks in the walls are starting to show. In India, many of those walls were never there in the first place.

One reason is that the open source environment is inherently flexible. This allows greater ability to localise content-a critical factor in providing viable technology to India's citizens. It also creates the opportunity for a compelling desktop operating system for India.

I am also encouraged to see India progressively move toward the role of open source contributor. India is using its wealth of knowledge to build solutions for India, as well as contributing towards other areas of the world seeking similar solutions. Open source was built in this way.

Around the world, access to technology means more users. And when users have the ability and the means to contribute-without geographical or structural boundaries-growth becomes exponential.

The opportunities are real and they are enormous. And it begins where access is needed most. Red Hat is proud to be a key contributor to the One Laptop Per Child project. Through this work, young people, even in the world's poorest and remotest areas, may have the chance to connect and participate in society in ways that were once impossible.

As open source continues to rise to prominence, it presents a new set of challenges for the open source community and Red Hat as a company. And as open source software rises, so does the fight to keep it open. But software is only the beginning. We now have to challenge to keep open other sources of content: music, text, even ideas. All are interrelated.

We believe a key part of our mission as a company is to strengthen the social fabric through the democratisation of content. To foster an environment where the work we create is free from conditions of artificial control. Where individuals can access global sources of information-bypassing the traditional gatekeepers.

The advance of technology in the last 10 years has given us a gift. The gift is the opportunity to rebuild the collaborative social structures that have eroded in our communities. But not to rebuild simply what we came to accept before, instead to build a new social fabric. A fabric that connects people as neighbours who may be continents away. A fabric that unites people with like interests, while ignoring artificial barriers like race, religion, power, money. A fabric that celebrates and nurtures great ideas, no matter where they come from.

The lessons we have learnt of the power of collaboration can now translate beyond building software. It is time for us to take our process and share it with the world. To change lives through teaching people how to build and connect ideas in the way that we in the open source movement have learned to do.

As in software code, when content is open all of us can learn from it, build upon it, and use it to create.

When we are free to develop new content in an open way-that's when knowledge will progress at a the kind of pace that India has seen with building technology infrastructure around open source. At Red Hat, we want to teach people how to develop content with the intent of sharing it.

I ask, how would the human condition change if millions of people around the world were building on each others ideas. Sharing, collaborating-without artificial restriction. This was the promise of the library, and now of the Internet on a global scale.

I want to thank my friends in India who have worked so hard to adopt and contribute to open source technology. The impact of your work is recognised around the world.

Team DigitTeam Digit

All of us are better than one of us.