Open Source or Black Box Internet Services?

Open Source is an attractive term nowadays. Usually people associate open source applications with being free to use. In a way this is true as the majority are indeed free. In reality though ‘Open Source’ is nothing more than a fact: open source applications are simply allowing anyone to have access to the source code (The programming code) and make changes leading to new versions or integrating applications/services between them. ‘Black Box’ is a wider term, not usually attractive. The word ‘black’ by default rings some bells around ‘bad’. In terms of internet services though black box refers to applications/services that are not accessible for changes by 3rd parties (people other than the ones who “own” the product and have developed it).

So what is more preferable? Should we use internet services where we, or others can modify and make them closer to our preferences or should we use services that have been designed and delivered as we see them and nothing else? In our opinion the answer is subject to who we are and what is our purpose. Using the service is important to us or is a casual activity?

 In our opinion Black Box is a more ’safe’ approach - what you get is what you really get. If you like it, use it. If not don’t.  Open Source is more flexible but this automatically means users are less in-control of what they use. Today could be lovely and stable and tomorrow may become evil and full of bugs. Unless one has the expertise and an objective to make changes and develope a new version,  is more reasonable to rely on black box services. Why reasonable? Because simply most people are using their cars, home appliances, furniture etc as they have been designed, made and sold. Not really getting a Car that many people made changes and the owner can keep changing its mechanical parts and road behaviour. 

The Car example leads to another important factor: Product Liability. If we buy a Car and as we drive it turns on its own we can easily sue the manufacturer. If we use an Open Source internet service that suddenly causes all our data to be lost who should we blame (not necessarily sue)? The designer of the original code ? The last person that made changes? The first person that made changes? Our self as we attempted to make some changes? Ofcourse some may claim the example is extreme. We believe is not. In our opinion Open Source is good for the evolution of Internet Services. What we use though should be Black Box. In other words, Open Source YES. as long as the outcome is well tested, debugged and sealed in a Black Box.

Comments are closed.