Maria Winslow

The erosion of the term "Open Source" begins

By Maria Winslow
July 25, 2005 10:16 AM EDT
I fear that the meaning of the phrase "open source" is already beginning to degrade.

First, Microsoft introduces Shared Source, a program that lets some customers view (not modify) some code. And they start calling site licensing "open license". Does it sound confusingly like "open source"? I think that's the point.

Now the first mass-market abuse of the phrase is coming from public talk radio. An article today in the NY Times (requires free registration) describes a new show on NPR called Open Source. What does this mean? Will the content be publicly available to take and modify to create innovative new shows? I don't think so.

The premise of the show is to harness the collective intelligence permeating the Web (would that be like the thousands of well-reasoned and insightful posts on Slashdot daily?) to produce smarter talk radio. The show is making blogs a central part of the content.

Open Source might be a good radio show, but that's not the point.  Why this title? What does open source (as we know it) have to do with it? Nothing as far as I can tell, except that it sounds cool. I suppose I could take a positive view, though...  rather than compain about the erosion of language that describes our little portion of the world, maybe I should be glad that some of our world has reached into the mass culture, however awkwardly.