Karen Schneider gave a lovely pragmatic talk on understanding open source at the Iowa Library Association 2009 Annual Conference (which was a welcome change from the sometimes cult-ish “Open Source is good, Open Source will solve all your problems” rhetoric). I hope to be able to link to her slides on slideshare as soon as I can find them, but here it is in a nutshell:
I. What is open source?
Schneider started out with a definition of open source from Wikipedia (I love it when librarians aren’t afraid to use Wikipedia!): “Open source software generally allows anyone to make a new version of the software, port it to new operating systems and processor architectures, share it with others or market it.” She pointed out that sometimes you don’t even know when you’re using open source: Audacity, WordPress, Firefox, and lots of in-flight movies are just a few examples of open source software in action.