The USPS, Fed Ex, and UPS all maintain their own distribution networks. Intel, AMD, IBM, and Motorola all develop separate microchip architectures. Virtually every automaker is currently developing alternative fuel engines to varying degrees of success. And each is closed off from the other, as if they existed in a different world.
I can’t help but wonder: How much farther ahead would technology be if developers spent their time creating and refining new functionality, instead of replicating existing systems?
Imagine if developers worked together, releasing their work as open technologies, standards upon which others could build new functionality. Think of the possibilities: Drug companies working on vaccines, starting with the best available work. Hybrid and alternative engine development, tuning the best available systems. Essentially, a world where developers start from the best of what other developers already have to offer. All energy being spent innovating, rather than recreating.
We live in a world where much effort is wasted in redundancy. We replicate functionality in the name of patentable proprietary systems. And to what benefit? For the public to be able to choose from a multitude of devices that accomplish the same function? The current model of development has been for private profit, with a patent and copyright system working to protect it, rooted in a belief that proprietary systems afford some benefit to the public. But what benefit is there to a public in a proprietary cure for disease, when the development model quarantines implementation and further progress to the intelligence and business plan of a single organization? It seems the majority of the benefit is for those that own the patent. And in my eyes, that profit is at the expense of the Public Good.
The world has changed since the establishment of the business practices common today. Technology affords us the ability to collaborate easily, and Open Source models exist that allow for developers to contribute collaboratively. Perhaps it’s time for us to adjust our mindset of production to the way the world can work today, rather than one based on the limitations of yesterday.