Tuesday, April 20, 2010

S03 - blog post #10

Since I’m not all that technically inclined, I’m going to start off with a quick admission that some aspects of this week’s readings went right over my head. When the readings started delving into the actual process of replacing source code and creating structural databases of code, I couldn’t help but lose focus. Sorry.

Anyway, I had a few questions that occurred to me during Paige’s lecture, so I guess I’ll just repeat them here since they didn’t get answered during class. First of all, I wonder what gives someone like Richard Stallman the power to create a manifesto regarding open source technology. If the point of open source is equality of production, doesn’t his position as the de facto leader of this movement give him inherently unequal power? If the master hackers get the most power, there doesn’t seem like there would be true equality…

My other question is about users. What is the ultimate difference between open source software and proprietary software (I forget if there’s a good term for this…) at the level of the user? Would I see an appreciable difference if I were to use Linux as opposed to Windows? Or is open source software more an ideological question for the user – it seems almost to break down into a capitalist/socialist dichotomy, and the user must choose between them. For a hacker, I can see the pull that using open source software might have, but for the user, I really can’t see it. Truthfully, I wouldn’t want to use something that has a new version released every day because I wouldn’t feel like I could rely on it – even if bugs are fixed more quickly, there are more bugs the user will come into contact with.

No comments: