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Culture

Benjamin Franklin: An open-source advocate?

The U.S. founding father's views on sharing one's inventions "freely and generously" make him sound much like an open-source advocate.

Open source has always been as much about free markets as it is free software, so it wasn't surprising to come across this quotation from Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States:

As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.

Franklin, no lover of patents, would likely have felt right at home in the open-source movement. But then, so might anyone who believes in decentralized control.

Indeed, while programmer Eric Raymond categorized proprietary software development as a "cathedral," it's really much more like a Soviet-style store, with centralized control of development and deployment.

Open source? It's free-market.


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