Today my classmate Jay talked about Open source Software and some of the debates surrounding it. He gave a few good examples of big projects that are open source such as Firefox and Gimp. I was wondering how big companies like this can function if all their work is given away for free. Apparently groups like this can get backing from big companies that use their services for instance Mozilla, the creator of Firefox, apparently gets a lot of their financial backing from Google. This seems strange to me since Google has its own open source browser Chrome, but I suppose that is one of the beauties of open source, it’s all free so it’s not as if one is losing money over the other doing better. A few things that he brought up that I thought was really interesting though was the controversies between companies trying to get a hold of pattens on specific code functions, such as Apple fighting to get the right to making calls by touching the phone number on the screen their own, unique from other smart phones. It seems like such a silly thing to waste time and money on, it just seems very anti-progressive and without this flow of open ideas how do we progress. Also the idea of one company owing all the pattens, such as Google, is frightening. I have heard rumors of Google trying to eventually control the internet and make it a completely free service. In theory it sound great but they would have a scary amount of power over how it is used. It makes me a little more apathetic about open source.
When Jay brought up some of the most interesting open source projects I was quite baffled by Bitcoin. I have never heard of this before. It is apparently a digital currency that is not associated with any one nation and can be exchanged for a variety of real life items just like physical currency. I am still having a hard time grasping how your computer generates money but It just seems like a way to use some thing like online banking and stock exchange without paying all the stupid fees of the real world bank since it is a peer-to-peer software as well as being open source. It makes me wonder if this currency will one day replace our current way we use money or will it fizzle out as a fad of sorts. it’s still young since it only started in 2009 but three years in the computer world is ages. Regardless this was an eye-opening talk and I want to thank Jay for that.