webOS:open source::BYU:independence

First, I should probably apologize for taking back to your high school days and the horrid exams that we force upon your young children.  But frankly, I loved these logic questions.  I don’t know if I was any good at them, but I thought that they were a lot of fun.

In the unlikely even that you don’t remember how to read the title, it says, “webOS is to open source as BYU is to independence.”  The point is to say that I wish to make a comparison between BYU’s decision to make their football program independent from any conference, and HP’s recent decision to make webOS open source.

Most software is “closed” source.  That means that you can’t see the internal workings of the software.  Almost everything made by Microsoft and Apple is closed source.  There are many other closed source programs as well, it is a very common way to produce software and protect your intellectual property.  The only way to see how Windows works is by hacking into the software, which isn’t ethical or legal.

However, there is a large body of open source software that is starting to catch hold in the popular society.  If you have used Firefox, Chrome, Android, Open Office, GIMP, or Audacity.  Then you have used an open source product.  Even the software used to help manage this site is open source.

The idea behind open source is that anyone can get into the source to fix a problem or bug.  They can also help to make an enhancement in the software.  The concept of many hands make light work.  Open source is also typically offered as free to the public.  It doesn’t mean that someone can’t charge you to use it, it just means that if they are, then you are getting ripped off.

So, what does open sourcing webOS have to do with BYU’s independence.  They really have nothing to do with each other, but I think that is a lot of analogies that can be made between the two decisions that were made almost a year from each other.

The first is the concern that many are expressing about the decision.  When BYU announced that it was going to take football down the independent road, many people were either afraid for the future of BYU football, or they mocked the decision.

The same can be said about webOS going open source.  I have read anything from outright ridicule to thoughts of fear.  But just like with BYU’s decision, this fear and ridicule are really just a sign of something else.  It is a sign of lack of understanding.  Many people didn’t understand BYU’s motivation.  Very few football programs have made the “independent” decision.  And the same is going on with webOS.  People who don’t know what open source means, are confused, lost and scared.

But just like BYU. I believe that webOS has a tough year ahead, of itself, with a lot of work.  But if the right amount of effort it put into it, by both the employees of HP and the many webOS loving developers, that webOS could be better than even iOS (don’t get me started on siri, what a joke).

This is really my second point in the comparison.  It will not be an easy road.  Fortunately, webOS has the backing of HP to go down this road.  And HP professes to be fully invested.  Time will only tell.  I believe them.  I think that Meg Whitman is the CEO who is needed to make up for the mistakes that HP has made in the recent past.

I look forward to seeing what happens with webOS, and more specifically webOS product (because that is really the big gaping black hole in this whole mess).  I am excited to see webOS become fully open.  I believe that it will do better than what many of the pundits are predicting.

I am holding on to my TouchPad, and I look forward to seeing it advance.

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