Scott Chacon and a look at the future of Open Source

September 26, 2014

Read time 2 min

Scott Chacon is the CIO and co-founder of GitHub, and this isn’t his first keynote at Reaktor Dev Day. In fact, we’ve had the pleasure to hear him give a talk a couple of years back, in 2011. Glad to have you back, mr Chacon!

According to Chacon, the Open Source scene has changed immensely; even within the last few years. Companies have started to realize what the other over 3 million users have known for some time now – Open Source is the future.

Chacon starts off with a quick run-through of the history of Open Source: how it went from having software sellers not wanting to share their work while academics trusted peer review to the GNU manifesto to going from “free software” to the more politically and philosophically correct term “Open Source”.

Reaktor Dev Day 2014

There’s no denying that GitHub is huge: in the last quarter, content was pushed to about 2 million repositories. Chacon emphasizes the importance of licensing your work: the way people use Open Source is changing, the sense of ownership affects contribution. We’ve come far from the day Netscape opened up their Communicator.

One fundamental change is that companies are more and more active in Open Sourcing.

– Companies want to Open Source, they want to be a part of the community and work with people who don’t even necessarily work in their company. Yet, how to be good at Open Source is not clear to all companies.

– Firms such as Twitter, Samsung, Dropbox, Microsoft, Google, Linkedin, Oracle and IBM are already active in the scene. They benefit from the convergence of workflows: shareable projects and proprietary work don’t belong to completely different categories any more. This enables fewer meeting and e-mail, more things with URLs and more remote work and autonomy, which causes fewer costs of living issues.

Reaktor Dev Day 2014

The future, as Chacon sees it, looks rather bright.

– The future for me is living free of fear: I don’t want to be afraid of linking to the wrong library and getting in trouble for that. In the probable future, we are able to deeply engage with users and have the ability to both improve and learn from cutting edge software and collaborate with people from other companies on commodity software.

Finally, Chacon introduces a new term to describe the desirable future: community source.

– Freedom isn’t enough: it isn’t affective enough; you want people to listen to you. You want people to hear you and rationalize with you. Here’s a phrase for what I mean: community source. Is the future Open Source just projects that are freely available – or are they community source projects that invite you to contribute and improve?

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