Are Web 2.0 and Open Source headed for a collision? Here’s Stephen O’Grady:
While these two dominant technical trends or directions have much to learn from each other, the convergence is likely to have its painful moments if OSCON is any indication. Indeed the talk of the conference was the somewhat shocking public swipe at Tim O’Reilly by one of the GPLv3’s chief architects, Eben Moglen. As documented elsewhere, Moglen absolutely dropped the hammer on Mr. Web 2.0, arguing that “that the FSF has ‘done the heavy lifting’ and ‘carried your water’ for the last decade, and that the era of Web 2.0 distraction (buzz about who is making money, who will get acquired, etc) will need to be replaced by a serious conversation about freedom.”
It’s a very interesting discussion, and not least of which for the reason that Web 2.0 is built on Open Source. That’s a bug in the system. The GPL and other licenses were built for an age when you distributed software, and work because they require you to distribute the source code for your software along with the binaries. These days, most new applications are not distributed. You just provide access to them on your own server, and you’re not obliged to distribute any code.
So everybody these days is building Web applications using Open Source, but they’re keeping the code to themselves. When the innovation is returned to the Open Source community it’s out of charity rather than obligation.
It seems to me that even if Open Source licenses are, to some degree, obsolete, the Open Source culture has deeply and permanently taken hold in the Web development community. Developers are sharing code and knowledge, and Web applications keep getting more powerful and easier to write.