Steven Johnson, the author of the seminal book Interface Culture in his article about the Power of Collaboration in spurring innovation, Johnson refers to how ubiquitous open source software has become in every aspect of our lives, and asks us to imagine what would happen — cue the announcer voice — in a world without open source. He paints a stunning picture:
“For starters, the Internet and the Web would instantly evaporate. Every Android smartphone, every iPad, iPhone and Mac would go dark. A massive section of our energy infrastructure would cease to function. The global stock markets would go offline for weeks, if not longer. Planes would drop out of the sky. It would be an event on the scale of a world war or a pandemic.”
This is a breathtaking demonstration of the Power of Open Source Software in our lives. Techies & Software engineers know this and live it every day. But stop a moment & consider how deeply the Open Source Software has become a part of everyday life. Open Source is your Pocket, in your Car, your banks, financial markets literally everywhere.
Just as much we rely on Open Source Software as Consumers, Open Source Software has made headway in the business world, what many call “the enterprise”. IDC reports that open source makes up 30 percent or more of the code at major G2000 organizations, and some best practices companies actually use up to 80 percent. Thanks to open source, these industries are developing faster, more innovative software for less money.
Best practices in IT development organizations today recognize that maximizing the use of Open Source Software and adopting more collaborative methods of development are now a competitive business advantage. It can increase innovation and improve software agility, flexibility and development efficiency across the board. Getting there requires a proactive strategy for open source. It is a program, not a product or service purchase.
As a short answer to the question in the title, we say, no we cannot. Without Open Source Software, we would be up a brown, smelly creek without a paddle in a leaking canoe. Where do you think we would be without open source software?