Essentially, open-source is opening up source code of software to others and giving them permission to use it. This means that other people and organizations are generally allowed to, depending on the license, use and modify your software for their own purposes without financial consequences. Under closed-source circumstances, only the original creator of the software can make changes. One of the great advantages of open source is that the quality of the software can be high as many people or even entire communities are closely involved in the development, the fixing of bugs, and the thought process. Often open-source projects come with a license describing the process and possibilities of the software. Some licenses even state that your modifications to the software have to be made public as well, so that others can benefit from it again.
The new economy will be one of cooperation, sharing knowledge and learning together. Explicitly, this is about thinking in possibilities to work together, instead of thinking in competition. Today, innovation cycles are extremely fast and to keep up with this it is crucial to adapt and learn fast. You cannot keep up alone and thus learning together is the solution. This fits the essential idea of open-source software and because of that open-source can be used as an innovative way of thinking. Here in the Netherlands, as a country, we have always used this way of thinking. The foundation of our economy is knowledge and the open economy.
Making your software project open-source could be beneficial, but the choice to do so truly depends on what the goal of the software project is. From an economical cost point of view, more open-source software reduces the overal societal costs, because you can work upon someone else’s work and improve this and use it for your specific project and case. This means a faster innovation cycle and a more efficient social learning curve.
At Researchable, we advocate the use of open-source, and making our own projects open-source where possible. A large part of our clients consists of scientific and research institutions. The sharing of knowledge has always been an important pillar in the academic world and we support this. Making software projects open-source always depends on the goal of our clients. We understand very well that if the software project serves a commercial purpose such as a SaaS model, open-source is obviously not always desirable.