Following is an excerpt from my latest blog post on the Do-It-Together Blog. Visit element14 to read the whole thing!
The electronics and software industries have changed drastically in the past two decades (well, duh). But I’m not talking about new technical developments, I’m talking about the way we share information, and the impact of copyright, rights management, and the concept of intellectual property. If 20 years ago a software developer for a company like Microsoft were to tell you that they planned to release all the source code for a new application, you’d likely laugh at them. After all, why would you ever share proprietary information like that? And yet, we’ve seen many individuals and corporations do a complete 180 in the last few years. Open sourced software is becoming more and more prevalent, and thanks to things like the Open Source Hardware Summit, electronic and mechanical design sharing is becoming more prevalent as well. “Open Source” can refer to schematics, bills of materials, PCB layout, or other information relevant to the creation of a project that is released to the public. Why is open source such a big deal now? How come open source projects were so much rarer just a few years ago? One of the most important reasons lies in the strength of the hacker, maker, programmer, and geek communities.