December 13, 2007 by jimstogdill
Building Open Source Software in the DoD
I had the opportunity to speak yesterday at the DoD Open Technology conference in DC. I proposed to the contractors in the room that they don’t need to wait for the government to force them to open code through initiatives like the Navy’s SHARE repository. I think they should improve their market positions by proactively using their copyright on source written under government contract and open it themselves. ITAR aside, opening it up and intentionally commoditizing it (ala IBM and the Apache web server circa 1997’ish) is a good business move.
I’ll go even further, I think there is a moral obligation to offer code written under government contract as a public good whenever possible (though sometimes with a temporal shift to the right). LIke the gallium arsenide chips in our cell phones, to the civilian nuclear industry fathered by Hyman Rickover’s nuclear Navy, there is lots of historical precedent for thinking this way (argue amongst yourselves whether Rickover’s legacy is a wholly positive one).
I’ll try to write more about this later but for now, if you are interested, you can take a look at reasonably self-explanatory slides below.