Open Source ensures code remains a part of culture, by Simon Phipps
We at Software Heritage strongly believe that software is a cultural artifact that shapes our world and affects our lives in countless ways. We are thrilled to share an article by our ambassador Simon Phipps, who shares this belief and advocates for the importance of Open Source in preserving software as a part of the culture.
We cordially invited you to read the complete article titled “Open Source ensures code remains a part of culture” written by Simon Phipps, courtesy of the author himself.
In his blog post, Simon explains why Software Heritage completes the new social contract enabled by open-source: “Software Heritage provides the ultimate historical reference for the code behind our culture and comprehensive library of innovation to provide a “mounting block” to the shoulders of the giants before us.” The original version of this article was published on “Voices of Open Source”, the Open Source Initiative blog.
“As Lessig observed in his 1999 book “CODE, and other laws of cyberspace”, a citizen’s practical experience of the law and of society today is through the software that implements the written law. All the computer code that governs our lives and liberty should be open to public scrutiny in this new era. More than just allowing us to guard our freedoms now, future historians will also need usable source code if they are to fully understand our digital present as their historic past.
By popularizing and catalyzing the pre-existing concepts from the free software movement, Open Source has been at the heart of the connected technology revolution for 25 years. Open Source licenses grant all the rights necessary for anyone and everyone to use, improve, share and monetise the software powering modern systems and networks, empowering collaboration with many “known others” to create results greater than any could alone. Open Source Approved Licenses® are the hidden power behind Linux, Apache, Mozilla, Android and more.But by granting all the rights necessary to evolve the software powering modern systems and networks, Open Source also unreservedly grants permission to “unknown others” to repurpose, rehost, reuse and revolutionize. It also allows digital archivists to store, refactor and renew the means of access over the long term.
Availability to the “unknown others” — to society in general, and to our descendants — is crucial to our future. When software stays locked up inside the corporation or institution, when code created by the state with public funds remains secret, it does not add to our collective knowledge and the innovation it embodies is lost to society when the “owner” moves on. This was the original motivation for previous generations to create temporary intellectual monopolies as an incentive to creators to make their creations public.
As time has passed, those intellectual monopolies have themselves been regarded as property and the knowledge and culture they embody is increasingly withheld from society using that as a pretext. Open Source allows that new-found wealth to be “spent” in a new way to stimulate collaboration. Collaboration in the community has gone on to amplify innovation and accelerate adoption. It’s thus especially important that software funded with public money finds its way into Software Heritage.
Software Heritage completes the new social contract enabled by Open Source. It provides the ultimate historical reference for the code behind our culture and comprehensive library of innovation to provide a “mounting block” to the shoulders of the giants before us. We should strive to get all the software that matters into this new internet archive for code.
Software is a cultural artifact, a proxy for the law in the lives of every citizen, a tool for control and for freedom depending on the hand that wields it. It is imperative that all software is open for scrutiny and preserved for posterity.”
Simon Phipps, Voices of Open Source
We would like to thank Simon for his insightful article on the importance of open-source software in preserving our cultural heritage. His words align perfectly with our mission at Software Heritage, and we are proud to have him as one of our ambassadors.
We invite others who share our values and mission to join our ambassador program and help us in our quest to preserve and share the world’s software heritage.