Open(Anything) – The way of future products?

So I was reading Digg the other day and I came across a link to a story about OpenCola. This lead me to read the Wikipedia page on OpenCola and got me thinking beyond OpenSource software. Laird Brown, the senior strategist for the company which created OpenCola, attributed the success of OpenCola (over 150,000 cans sold) to the vast public mistrust of big corporations. This is understandable, since many of the processes used to create what we consume or use on a daily basis are not even public knowledge. At the very least, the knowledge is not easily accessible.

Take for example proprietary software. I can give many historical examples of how proprietary software (and hardware) has failed (think IBM, Sun, etc), but probably the best and most commonly used example of closed-source software would be Microsoft. They are an example of closed-source software which succeeded, not failed. So why did it succeed? I believe Microsoft's success can be attributed to two things: the computer illiterate nature of users who became the first generation of humans to start using computers on a daily basis (who didn't even know another option existed and therefore passed on their MS-knowledge to the next generation), and the lazy nature of humans who would rather put up with a broken, works-good-enough, product rather than learn something new.

As long as money is the driving force behind a product, whether it's software or food, there will always be consumers who doubt the quality and genuineness of the product. There will always be a person, or a group of people, who can be blamed when something goes wrong. Having an openly created product not only moves responsibility to "the people", but also allows the masses to agree on a single idea and solution. This helps remove not only public doubt but also helps to create a feeling of confidence and security. If something is created and we're left entirely in the dark about the specifics of how it was created, then we will always be relying on others to do their work with honesty and goodwill -- something I'm sure we are all aware is a rare combination in this world driven by greed.

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