23 February 2008
Open Source: The Prospect of Self-Driven Control
This post is being written using open source software. Why is this? There are a number of technical arguments, but they aren't the focus of this post. TO observes a subjective factor that makes OSS attractive: the ability to reach "under the covers" to adjust, configure, customize, or add to it. The title and theme of the excellent Freedom To Tinker blog, though not primarily oriented to OSS, captures this motivation well. If our lives evolve to balance precariously on top of more and more pieces of technology that we can neither understand nor influence, we lose control over these aspects of our environments and become alienated from them. Even if rarely or ever exercised for reasons such as available time, complexity, or lack of functional need, the potential ability to change their behavior allows a potential avenue of self-driven control. Today, many of us have only infrequent occasion to build fire from available woodland materials, but can nonetheless be facile in building or installing kernel updates. We may not be involved in building our houses, but can take satisfaction in how we shelter and arrange data. TO appreciates the satisfaction of "making things work" and enjoys amenable opportunities to do so, though can sometimes be less appreciative if a machine elects to dictate the circumstances when diagnostic assistance is demanded.