Software, data and other forms of information and content are increasingly shared freely among developers and users. This results in a shift in business models, from extractive to cooperative, and a continuous focus on truly valuable applications, both from a business and societal perspective.
The democratization of science and policy making – driven by suspicious citizens and the broader call for transparency – forces stakeholders to open up their data and information silos.
Governments (e.g. the European Commission) are also increasingly aware of the need to share information in light of the grand challenges that lie ahead of us (e.g. the use of data for climate resilience); mission driven innovation.
The ongoing integration of different devices and applications (e.g. smart home tech, integrated mobility-as-a-service) calls for ‘neutral’ protocols/middleware/platforms that safeguard a level playing field between stakeholders. Open source solutions are key to such neutrality.
Many developers are now convinced of the added value of the open source approach. As barriers are lowered for users, the uptake of products is faster and communities of co-developers can contribute to further improvements and additional features. Most large tech companies adhere (partially) to the open-source philosophy, including Google and its AI library Tensorflow or Tesla’s open-sourcing its patents.
The shift of value from resources (software and data) towards applications implies that innovation in general will speed up and also that smaller businesses, tapping into a pool of shared resources, are empowered. Obviously, the open source philosophy applies most to digital information, as it is an inexhaustible resource that can be multiplied endlessly without loss of quality. Yet, to some extent open source economy can also include the sharing of assets and other resources that are otherwise used sub optimally.