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Open Technological Standardization Processes Through Learning Networks

Open Technological Standardization Processes Through Learning Networks

RESEARCH TITLE: Open Technological Standardization Processes Through Learning Networks

AUTHOR: Christakis Mina

KEYWORDS: Technological Standardization, Learning Networks, Complex Social Networks, Open Source, Open Collaboration.

NOTES: This is a working article related to my PhD dissertation. Should you like to comment or offer any advice and recommendations, please don't to hesitate to contact me at chrismina[at]civil.mbox.media.kyoto-u.ac.jp. I will be very happy to hear from you!


Introduction

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;

"Mind Without Fear" by Rabindranath Tagore

Open Standards and the Emergence of the F/OSS Phenomenon


Open standards, Open access and open source software are three phenomena that have been receiving increased scholarly attention lately. There exist various de nitions of open standards in the literature and it seems that there is currently no consensus on an agreed de finition. Pountain (2003) for example de fines open standard as
a standard that is independent of any single institution or manufacturer, and to which users may propose amendments.
The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), a non-pro fit organization supporting open standards provides the following de finition (FSFE, 2009):
An Open Standard refers to a format or protocol that is
1. subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;
2. without any components or extensions that have dependencies on formats or protocols that do not meet the de nition of an Open Standard themselves;
3. free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model;
4. managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties;
5. available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors, or as a complete implementation equally available to all parties.

Coyle (2002) suggests that open standards should allow anybody to use them, to acquire them for free or nominal low cost and should not impose any limitations in participation of their development by anyone. In addition to the above, Ghosh (2005) suggests that
open standards should be de ned in terms of a desired economic e ect: supporting full competition in the marketplace for suppliers of a technology and related products and services.
Currently, Free/Open Source Software is a paradigm of open standardization. A layperson can not easily grasp the importance of software to our modern society. It is not obvious that software controls everyday use domestic appliances such as refrigerators, televisions, washing machines and micro-wave ovens, is used on communication devices such as mobile phones and fax machines and as well as on critical systems such as the electronic control systems of trains, cars, ships, airplanes power plants and space shuttles. Our daily lives depend on a variety of devices and systems that are in-turn run and controlled by software. The emergence of software in sciences and academia goes back to the era of the first computers. Researchers, scientists and practitioners alike use a variety of software in their daily activities, either to control electronic and mechanical devices, to do simulations, experiments and to record, analyze and process data. Software typically used by researchers is either commercial pre-packaged or custom-made. Custom-made software represents in fact the lion's share of the software used in research. Custom-made software created in the academia, has been following the traditional rules of knowledge dissemination and peer review. That is, in order for the scientific community to validate the results of a specific research, its data, tools (e.g. software) and methodologies have to be transparent and accessible for review:
The scientific method rests on a process of discovery, and a process of justification. For scientific results to be justified, they must be replicable. Replication is not possible unless the source is shared: the hypothesis, the test conditions, and the results. The process of discovery can follow many paths, and at times scientific discoveries do occur in isolation. But ultimately the process of discovery must be served by sharing information: enabling other scientists to go forward where one cannot; pollinating the ideas of others so that something new may grow that otherwise would not have been born (DiBona et al., 1999).
This approach was the norm in the early times of computing and software development. Recently, with the emerge and proliferation of commercial proprietary software, this norm has been pushed aside. This raised concerns among the research and software engineering communities and eventually resulted in the emergence of a new methodology to develop software that preserves the traditional ways of knowledge dissemination and provides transparency and accessibility. This new software development approach is referred to as Free/Open Source Software [1].

Rationale of the Research


Recently, research related to F/OSS saw a remarkable growth. The scholarly attention given to the F/OSS phenomenon comes from a variety of disciplines including engineering, social sciences and economics. In addition to that, non-profit organizations as well as governments recognized the potential of the emerging F/OSS approach and dedicated resources in researching the phenomenon. Increasingly, governments around the globe are encompassing F/OSS and open standards in general with notable examples found in Japan, the United States, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Russia and Peru, among others (Hahn, 2002). Recently major for-profit organizations such as IBM, HP, Amazon.com and Google, among others, recognized the business opportunities F/OSS can generate and invested substantial resources to it.

Even though a lot of research has been conducted in order to understand the F/OSS phenomenon, surprisingly little research has been conducted in understanding the economics behind F/OSS development. This can be explained by the fact that F/OSS is a highly complex and heterogeneous phenomenon. In addition to that, F/OSS presented a kind of a puzzle to economic researchers due to the fact that F/OSS is created mainly by volunteer contributions which in turn is made available to the public (thus it resembles a public good) but most importantly because of its highly intricate institutional structure and having the ability to adapt over time (Rossi, 2006).

Notes


[1] Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) is a composite term merging "Free Software" and "Open Source Software" together. Both Free and Open Source basically describe similar software development models. The main differences in the two models are their comprising cultures and philosophies. Both models are described in more detail in Chapter 2.

References


J. Bitzer and P. J. Schroder. The Economics of Open Source Software Development, chapter 1, pages 1-13. Elsevier, 2006.

C. DiBona, S. Ockman, and M. Stone, editors. Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution. O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., Sebastopol, CA, USA, 1999. ISBN 1565925823.

R. W. Hahn, editor. Government Policy toward Open Source Software. AEI Brooking Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, Washington DC, USA, 2002.

R. Miller, D. Clark, B. White, and W. Knottenbelt. An Introduction to the Imperative Part of C++. 1996-2007. Available at: http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~wjk/C++Intro/ .

B. Perens. The open source definition, 1998. Available at: http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php .

M. A. Rossi. The Economics of Open Source Software Development, chapter 2, pages 15-55. Elsevier, 2006.

R. Stallman. The free software definition, 1984. Available at: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html .



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最終更新日 2013年2月22日(金曜)13:52

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