Google as a Non-Evil Open Source Entity

Google as a Non-Evil Open Source Entity
Re-posted with some editing from my original post over at my Google+ profile, from back in September 2011.

A few hours ago I spotted the following somewhere on my stream: …every Google service (and i mean every) is replaceable with an alternative. Of course this is true. What Google does is bring it all under a single roof and make it all work together. Which is why it is so important for Google to not be evil.

By virtue of Google being mostly dependent on Open Source, once Google starts becoming evil anyone else (with the adequate economic & engineering resources of course) can just take code from Google and replicate all Google’s services. So Google must stay not evil, or die.

Specifically I sincerely hope Google will continue to stay not evil, and I would think they would continue not being evil by keeping these following behaviors:

  • by continuously being Open Source (as opposed to being ideologically um, “militant” like Richard Stallman and the FSF Free Software camp);
  • by committing to interoperability and open data;
  • be firstly about global computing progress & excellence then secondly (and only secondly) be about business survivability and profitability (but of course one could argue that computing excellence should probably assure business survivability); and
  • by remembering how Google’s success is almost 100 percent made possible by Open Source (instead of just plain Free Software), and thus must continue to give backupstream (whether code, manpower, financial support etc.).

And as far as I know, Google has been doing these not-evil things and still continue to do so.

…Now there are people who say that Free Software is Open Source. I personally welcome efforts to “make peace” between the two camps. And even more importantly I do realize that there are many who are not even aware (or even care,in some cases) that there are differences between Open Source and Free Software; and I do hope the day will come soon enough that nobody even has to worry or even think about said differences.

But what I do sincerely believe is this: Google is currently not evil by virtue of their crucial dependence on Open Source software, and the Open Source camp will continuously be grilling Google’s feet under fire to make sure Google will never be able to rape Open Source software.

…Lest the collective Open Source um, “tribe” (for lack of a better term; with apologies), decide enough is enough and fork Google’s whole stack. And kill it.

1) I don’t even hack, so I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. There. :p

2) “Google Angel-Evil” image found via Google Image Search and downloaded; if anyone can confirm the original source I’d be most grateful :)

3) And just to be clear here’s my understanding of what the difference between Open Source and Free Software are:
– Open Source: The best software wins. Inevitably the best software is at its core Open Source.
– Free Software: All software must be free. Un-free (proprietary) software is evil, and must be banished.

If you really, really want to learn more about Open Source vis-a-vis Free Software I recommend reading this article from 2001 (link found at FSF’s website, incidentally):


Author: Ferdi Zebua

For more info visit my blog, my Google+, or my Ello.

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