On the term "Open Source"

The internet runs on Open Source Software. But what does "Open Source" mean, and where did the term come from? It's still unclear what the actual origin was, but one thing is certain: the term predates claims by members of the Open Source Initiative. I reached out to Lyle Ball, CEO of NetEndeavor and former head of public relations at Caldera for his opinion on the subject, and he was kind enough to provide a substantial and informative response.

Berkeley in the Sixties

In a time in which we have a tendency to feel disenfranchised and powerless, we would all do well to remember the lessons of the free speech movement at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1960s. The motivated students of UCB created a feeling of empowerment in the student body that had important positive repercussions not only for the freedom of speech, but also the equal rights and women's rights movements.

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Sentenced to two years hard labor (for sodomy), Oscar Wilde stood handcuffed in driving rain waiting for transport to prison. "If this is the way Queen Victoria treats her prisoners," he remarked, "she doesn't deserve to have any." James McNeill Whistler's (painter of "Whistler's Mother") failure in his West Point chemistry examination once provoked him to remark in later life, "If silicon had been a gas, I should have been a major general."

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I walked on toward Ploughwright, thinking about feces. What a lot we had found out about the prehistoric past from the study of fossilized dung of long-vanished animals. A miraculous thing, really; a recovery from the past from what was carelessly rejected. And in the Middle Ages, how concerned people who lived close to the world of nature were with the feces of animals. And what a variety of names they had for them: the Crotels of a Hare, the Friants of a Boar, the Spraints of an Otter, the Werderobe of a Badger, the Waggying of a Fox, the Fumets of a Deer.
— Robertson Davies

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Hardly a pure science, history is closer to animal husbandry than it is to mathematics, in that it involves selective breeding. The principal difference between the husbandryman and the historian is that the former breeds sheep or cows or such, and the latter breeds (assumed) facts. The husbandryman uses his skills to enrich the future; the historian uses his to enrich the past. Both are usually up to their ankles in bullshit.
— Tom Robbins


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