As we press toward Web 3.0 the speed of Internet marketing is daunting. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt noted at the Techonomy Conference in 2010 that we create as much content every two days now as from the dawn of man until 2003. As information explodes, time collapses. We must do more, faster, with less. I’m convinced open source is an important answer to Internet marketing’s need for speed and openness.
The leading provider of open source support, Red Hat, reached a milestone yesterday. Red Hat received top security certification from the U.S. federal government, as reported by @WRALTechWire today (and picked up in our Atlantic BT Daily). Congratulations to our neighbors at Red Hat. Red Hat’s win is a big win for open source programming too.
Great News for Open Source
Red Hat is a great local company; they are moving to downtown Raleigh after years at NC State’s Centennial Campus. More than just the pride of seeing a great local company recognized, Red Hat’s recognition, after what we are sure is a grueling process, is a large statement about the growing importance of the open source philosophy. The U.S. government’s vote for Red Hat is also a vote for open source.
What Is Open Source?
Open source programs share source code and other resources that are normally reserved to one company via secrecy and copyright. Open source creates a hive-like ecosystem by allowing products such as Magento’s e-commerce platform (Atlantic BT is a Bronze Magento Support Partner) to rapidly respond to evolving needs from a variety of customers including retailers and the military.
Open source also marshals the wisdom of crowds. There is no top-down authority to slow open source development by attempting to direct its efforts. If a programmer believes they can improve Magento, WordPress or FireFox (the top 3 open source applications), they write some code to fill the need.
At its inception, Red Hat understood an important open source problem. Support and market coherence were needed if Fortune 1,000 companies were to embrace open source software in their operations. Red Hat’s competitors include Microsoft and Oracle, companies highly invested in expensive, copyright-protected software. Red Hat helped create an alternative, an alternative now used by many companies within the “Fortune 1,000” list of largest companies in the world.
Platforms vs. Websites
Not long ago I had an epiphany. I realized that closed-loop, solipsistic websites are dead and gone. In Platforms vs. Websites, I shared recently-concluded gift industry research showing that Etsy.com had more than 100 million pages listed in Google.
RedEnvelope.com, a favorite and an online gift retailer pioneer, had a fraction of Etsy’s presence. Etsy.com is a platform that marshals and depends on User Generated Content (UGC). Etsy.com is a platform where craftspeople create “stores” to sell their homemade products. Other social platforms that marshal UGC include: Facebook, Twitter, Scoop.it and even Spotify. I wouldn’t be surprised if Etsy.com is based on open source code.
Open Source Advantages
Combine the platform idea with wisdom of crowds, and powerful ecosystems emerge. These “user communities” create wisdom of crowds benefits faster and cheaper than most command and control companies. It turns out the key to creating success in the marketplace is to gain the trust, confidence and love of others (a common Internet marketing need, too). When a programmer creates a company to develop Magento or WordPress plugins on their own dime, it is a powerful statement in favor of emergence and hive-like wisdom of crowds.
Yesterday the federal government joined open source developers to make a powerful statement about the need for speed when they awarded Red Hat their highest security clearance. Government systems, like Internet marketing, need to evolve faster and faster. There is one key difference: Our lives and livelihoods depend on government systems, so it is exciting and confidence-building when the government embraces open source, Red Hat and the ever faster speed of change we Internet marketers know so well.
Congratulations, Red Hat!