Open Source: Does It Mean What You Think It Means?

January 15, 2021

I spotted an article on Newswire called “Tech Giant Technology Is Open Source for the Pandemic, So Why Does It Feel So Closed?” The awkward title intrigued me. Open means, according to

not closed or barred at the time, as a doorway by a door, a window by a sash, or a gateway by a gate:to leave the windows open at night.

(of a door, gate, window sash, or the like) set so as to permit passage through the opening it can be used to close.

Pretty obvious. But open appears to mean closed. The “source” refers to software I assumed.

The write up sets me straight:

“The term ‘open source’ is being applied to the final design of an instrument – and I’m pleased to say there has been a willingness during the pandemic to share these final designs – but the design process itself also needs to be open, something it isn’t now,” explains physics researcher Dr Julian Stirling.

Okay, the “design process” has to be available. To get more insight into this open is closed issue, navigate to the original technical paper at this link. So far the paper is open, but as I have learned, open can be closed and often locked up behind a paywall.

Stephen E Arnold, January 15, 2021


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