Colin Jackson – Independent Technology Consultant, IT.GEN.NZ 

“One of the reasons the Internet has succeeded is the openness. In fact, that’s the main reason. Sometimes when I talk in public, I will say, “Who remembers Prodigy?”. (Prodigy was an old service of IBM that was relatively popular). “Who remembers CompuServe?”. What happened to them? Who thinks that the Internet would have gone anywhere if it had been owned by a company? And that’s one of the major factors of the Internet becoming ubiquitous is that it is not owned by a company, it is a co-op. The reason it is able to be a co-op is that the Internet itself is nothing more than the standards that make the Internet work. It’s not the wires, it’s not the computers. We can replace those and it would still be the Internet. In fact, they’re getting replaced every day. So it is the standards. Now those standards were a really good piece of engineering that were done, part of it by Vint Cerf and others in the US, some of it with American Defense Department money, but it was all published and made open. It was openly licensed so that anybody could implement it under any conditions they chose. That’s utterly crucial. That’s not the same as open source but it’s got a lot in parallel with open source and open data. Now a lot of the early software to run on the Internet – and, in fact, a lot of the software that still makes the Internet work – is open source. The Apache web server, for example, is pretty much PSD licensed – it’s an open source thing – everybody can get it and tweak it. The XXXXXX (1:34) to the name server which runs pretty much the whole thing. There was a huge amount of open source software totally necessary to the Internet. In a way, closed source software is almost an aberration out there. The way I see it sometimes is that there is this great ocean of open source and there’s islands of closed stuff around the place. That’s been really important in the development of the Internet because it’s meant that people can just keep developing and tweaking it and keep implementing new stuff – and the ability to implement new stuff is what has kept the Internet growing and rolling out to everybody.”



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