Brett Bonfield on open source software in the library | Federated Search BlogFederated Search
23
Jul

Technologist and blogger Brett Bonfield wrote an excellent article yesterday on the “In the Library with the Lead Pipe” blog regarding open source software in the library.

Here’s the opening paragraph:

It’s interesting how many people don’t really understand the concept of open source. People often describe freeware as open source, or they’ll describe free web-based applications as open source, or applications with APIs that allow for mashups. There are articles all the time, on some of the most popular websites, that recommend free software but don’t distinguish programs the authors gives away for free from software that is actually open source.

And, here’s my favorite statement:

Perhaps what people associate most closely with open source—free software—is its price tag. However, it is often pointed out that open source software is usually free like a puppy or a kitten: there may be no cost associated with acquiring it, but there’s more involved than just the initial cost.

This article is a must read for anyone considering investing in open source software. It addresses a number of questions. Here are a few:

  1. What’s the real difference between open source and commercial software?
  2. What is the true cost of free software?
  3. How might library spending on software change in the next few years?
  4. How might the presence of open source software in the library change in the next few years?
  5. In Bonfield’s opinion, what are seven open source library applications worth considering?
  6. How does documentation in the open source space compare with that in the commercial space?

I need to disclose that Deep Web Technologies, a commercial provider of federated search, pays me to blog here. Having said that, I’m not at all knocking the open source movement. In fact, I think a really appropriate article for me to research and write would be on open source alternatives to commercial federated search. I agree with Bonfield that we’re going to be seeing more open source software in libraries so I’m bringing his article to your attention so that you’ll be aware of the pluses and minuses of what navigating the open source waters entails.

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One Response to "Brett Bonfield on open source software in the library"

  1. 1 Brett Bonfield on open source software in the library » Federated … | Information Technology
    July 23rd, 2009 at 4:19 pm  

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