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About the site name: part 1

I spent a fair amount of time thinking about "open software trends", the name for this site. Even though I don't think of myself as a "trendy" person, when it comes to software, I'm always trying to figure out what's likely to happen next. Of course, it's extremely rare for new technologies to be quickly and widely adopted. Instead, we see the initial and ongoing reactions and then see it gain (or possibly lose) followers over time. The Mac went up, then down, and is now moving sharply up. Adoption of Firefox has been strong all along, but still has only a 20% share of browser use in the US. Ada and CORBA appeared strong at first, but have how dropped off sharply in use. When you are trying to make technology decisions, whether for product development or for research, trends are very important. So "trends" seemed like a better word than "directions".

For me, the word "open" was a given. We're seeing a trend (that word again) away from closed and proprietary systems toward those that interoperate well. People want to build systems by integrating existing components, and want to customize them to meet their own needs. In some cases, they want access to the source code, since that provides complete freedom to modify the code to meet their exact needs. But open source is not a universal wish or need, since many people do not want to take on responsibility for working with code that deviates from a supported release. For example, many thousands of developers have flocked to the iPhone platform, even though they do have access to the its associated source code. In this case, it's in a developer's best interest to make certain that their application works properly with the version(s) of the code running on everyone's phones. Few people are likely to download and install a new version of the iPhone software just to run a particular application; the situation would be much more messy if different appliations were each to use their own variant of the iPhone platform.

The choice among "system" vs. "software" vs. "source" was much more difficult, and we'll take that up next time.