Probably the greatest benefit of open source software is the liberty it creates to unleash innovation and the unexpected. By giving everyone four key liberties – to use the software for any purpose, to study it, to modify it and to pass it to others – software under OSI-approved licenses can be used in any way to create anything. The last twelve years since OSI was founded have seen an explosion of creativity both in the creation of software and in its use to make wonderful things happen.
If I had to vote for the open source wonder of the world today, it would undoubtedly be Wikipedia. Using open source software, a small but devoted team has built in just ten years what previous generations could only hope for – a global encyclopedia capable of gathering the world’s knowledge in any language. In the process, Wikipedia has taught us how to collaborate electronically at huge scale, has helped us question the nature of authority and has provided the seed for open knowledge in the same way open source software provides the seed for open innovation.
So it’s a delight to be able to wish Wikipedia a very happy tenth birthday, on behalf of the Board of the Open Source Initiative. Long may you flourish!