Thesis - Open Technologies for an Open World
Open Standards, Open Source, Open Mind


Open Conclusion


8. Open Future

"Although there are those among us now who have been granted the gift of being able to glimpse patterns of the future, probabilities tossed like dice on the uneven blanket of space and time, even these gifted ones know that no single future has been preordained for us or our posterity. Events are fluid. The future is like smoke from a burning forest, waiting for the wind of specific events and personal courage to blow the sparks and embers of reality this way or that." - Dan Simmons in The Rise of Endymion

The roles of desktops and servers will continue, but the peer-to-peer concept will allow them to act together, with groups of desktops joining forces to outperform powerful servers. This concept will continue to propagate to several domains and communities outside technology, with distant people gathering via the networks to make face to big commercial monopolies, and dominant political parties. Democracy rules will need to be reviewed, as the need for representatives will decrease, people being able to give their own opinion at any time or any place, and have enough free information to base their decision.

The real TCO - Total Cost of Ownership - is extremely difficult to be calculated, for implementations of complex applications that require intensive computing capacity, high availability, large databases, and communication with many users via the Net. Of course, it must be considered, but it's only one of the elements of a good analysis matrix including factors like usability, compatibility with existing systems, potential evolution of the hardware and software platform, and quality of support. Even if specialists, consultants and service providers are there to provide the good answers, a general knowledge about the infrastructure may increase the quality of the project definition, and consequently reduce the risk factor in the decision making process.

As said by Rheingold, "More people must learn about that leverage and learn to use it, while we still have the freedom to do so, if it is to live up to its potential. The odds are always good that big power and big money will find a way to control access to virtual communities; big power and big money always found ways to control new communications media when they emerged in the past. The Net is still out of control in fundamental ways, but it might not stay that way for long. What we know and do now is important because it is still possible for people around the world to make sure this new sphere of vital human discourse remains open to the citizens of the planet before the political and economic big boys seize it, censor it, meter it, and sell it back to us."

Not all software has to be open-source, though. Only that software that is critical to research, to security, or to ensure communication with other companies has to be open-source. Open protocols and open formats should be used essentially in critical areas, where the information must be always accessible independently of the usage of specific pieces of software. It's very reasonable for everything else to be proprietary and to then compete on that basis in the marketplace. It's how companies like HP, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM makes billions in revenue. It's how companies and application developers build their infrastructure. In fact, the better all the pieces - open source and proprietary - are integrated, the more the industry advances and the better everybody can compete with their proprietary software, applications, services, and all the things that drive the IT economy.

The usage of alternatives like MDA and XML may reduce the negative impact of proprietary alternatives, by virtually eliminating the risk of imprisonment in closed platforms and formats. However, they are not the only elements to be considered - as demonstrated in the part 2 of this study - and their usage must be clear and complete to be a real advantage. If the software platforms are built around XML-based documents, this solution must be implemented in every important part of the software, to hold all the information. No piece of closed format should be used for strategic data.

The social and economical advantages for most countries and small and medium companies should really push the governments to take part on this battlefield. As proven in the recent gulf war, economical and political fights are more important and take longer than the military ones. However, as stated by Himanen, "The hacker open model could be transformed into a social model. (…) We have seen that the hacker model can bring about great things in cyberspace without governments and corporations as mediators. It remains to be seen what great things individuals' direct cooperation will accomplish in our 'flesh reality' " .

8.1. INCA

Based on this study, a future landscape of the technical infrastructure has been suggested and is available online. After browsing the online chart, the reader can come back to the document, read selected topics and leave comments in the website.

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