Evolution and Open Source Software (last roar of the dinosaurs)
Published 14:30, 09 February 10
Symbian, the giant maker of that well known operating system for cell phones is an inspiration. By announcing that it was going to release 'billions of pounds worth of Intellectual Property' as Open Source software it made the BBC news.
Hoorah! Symbian will join the likes of Android OS and Linux, thereby making OSS the dominant software of the phone market. Good luck to them I say...hmm, but hang on I've heard this story somewhere before.
Gene Splicing trumps Creationism
In the past, I have been known to liken the giant proprietary software companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Adobe to dinosaurs, and the Open Source bunch to the furry mammals that supplanted them after a meteor struck (allegedly).
I love this metaphor for all sorts of reasons not least because of all the roaring and the lumbering. However, ever since 'Jurassic Park' I have been intrigued by the possibilities of gene splicing. What if Dinosaur DNA could be put into a mouse, or indeed vice versa?
It gets better, in our software ecosystem or rather in my imagined version of this, the dinosaurs still roam (with lots of roaring and lumbering) and sometimes, just sometimes they sniff the air and feel an end approaching.
Then something remarkable happens...
...just before their end, real or imagined; they release their very DNA into the wild; their source code; like some desperate note in a bottle cast into the ocean. It first happened with the giant browser Netscape whose code became Mozilla and now re-vivified, furry in nature (if not logo), races around as FOSS browser Firefox...it's still a bit 'dinosaurish' though don't you think? Anyway...
...next, Sun's mighty brontosaur Solaris and its Raptor-like cousin Java went all furry on us.
Even more recently, Skype announced an Open Source client version of its very famous VOIP software and now follows Symbian's news.
What does it all mean?
How will these transgenic creations evolve when exposed to Natural Selection?
Are they still just dinosaurs in big furry gorilla suits?
It's true that big furry creatures tend to go extinct more easily than small furry creatures by and large but it is too early to tell if that fate awaits them.
Finally, what about the other way around?
Can Open Source's cute and lovable furry creatures turn into dinosaurs. Is this what 'neo-proprietarism' is about? 'Enterprise FOSS?' Reverse evolution, now there is a thought.
I know Tux is a penguin; penguins are birds; birds are not mammals but it turns out that they are dinosaurs with feathers, many were apparently...uh oh.
But the really intriguing question is what about the biggest Dino of them all? Will it eat up all the furry creatures or will Climate Change do for it too?
One thing I do know is that even if there is a gorilla suit big enough for MS it would not fool anyone...'MS Open Source Division? Hello, I wonder if we could do business?'