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October 24, 2012

Open Standards Are Critical to Underpin Open Data

Posted by: Katie Heasley

 Our celebration of Open Access Week continues with a guest post from Brian Fitzgerald, coauthor of Adopting Open Source Software: A Practical Guide.

I am glad to see that open source software continues to be of significant interest to researchers and practitioners. I believe it truly is a disruptive technology which has had a massive effect on fields and methods of organizing outside of software development, e.g., open innovation, crowdsourcing, and open data. This extends the idea of knowledge transfer, permeation, and exploitation across the boundaries of organizations and communities, with implications well beyond the software domain as it suggests new models of work organization and innovation. I was quite excited about the recent NASA announcement that they were to collaborate with Karim Lakhani at Harvard University on crowdsourcing software development initiative. Basically, developers will compete to solve software development problems in the mode of "optimistic concurrency" that has served the open source software phenomenon so well. This could lead to very exciting software development possibilities.

One issue that surprises me, however, is that for all the great awareness and understanding of open source software and its complexities, there seems to be no corresponding general awareness or interest in open standards. The latter are key to ensuring the future of open source software. They ensure that open source solutions can always be available to match proprietary ones. Open standards are also critical to underpin open data, which is a really exciting frontier for the future.  

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