i try to care about the future and keep all of humanity in mind, not just those closest to me and not just my immediate needs. in part this is because i have a child; in part this is because i grew up where poverty was rampant and visible. i sometimes do a less than stellar job of turning my belief into substantive results, but it remains something near to my core motivations, a ndit remains one of the big reasons i'm interested in open source software.
while i often speak with a market-sensitive slant, i'm usually thinking of open standards. it is only through the openness of standards that we can guarantee future access to information. being the quintessential human product, information is what keeps our world of culture turning and maintains the balance of power (or lack thereof).
the problem with open standards is that they don't support themselves. in a competitive environment, which i believe provokes innovation and helps ensure quality, there are all the reasons in the world to not cooperate with other via open standards if all other things are equal. open source ensures that not all other things are equal in this equation.
by providing a collaborative environment that works to each party's interests, open source helps ensure adherence to sahred, open standards. when enough feet can be aggregated behind a given implementation, which is easier done by self-selected conglomeration than by efforts of market containment, that market segment gets to direct which standards are in use.
this is why DNS, HTTP, SMTP and so many other important networking protocols have remained open and useful standards for decades, and conversely why word processor formats, HTML and medical record keeping have historically been a nightmare. fortunately as we see a larger userbase gather around open source word processors, open source web page rendering engines and open source medical information technology these trends are reversing. the experiments are over: open implementation ensures open standards ensures fair and equitable access to technology and information.
whether you are a western capitalist, a farmer in New Zealand, a statesman in Namibia or a child taking their first steps through school this is a good thing.
and best of all, it's tons of fun to be involved with the process of open implementations. our communities rock =)
as a footnote, to those people claiming that N distributed CDs or N downloads equates to N copies of said software in use ought to go talk to people who produce newspapers. those people understand distribution-to-use ratios and have found a way to speak honestly and accurately about these metrics.
if we keep saying to the world that we have these millions of users only for those numbers to be shown to be over inflated time and again, how long before that gets picked up as a meme by our mutual competitors as how this open source stuff is largely mythical and not really happening despite what the ("obviously untrustworthy") boosters say?
the answer is not long. i've already started to see this exact meme used in public media bits here and there.