The (Open Source) World in 2020 -- A History Based Look into the Future

Stefan Merten <smerten AT oekonux DOT de>


Editor: Florian Samson

Discuss the slides on their Wiki pageRemote link.


The talk addresses the FrOSConRemote link topic "The Open Source World in 2020 - Ein Blick in die Glaskugel...". To address the topic from a scientific perspective the talk was created with the mindest: "If you want to predict future you must have understood history!". In the first part of the talk looks back on the history of Free Software as the most visible and most successful example of an Open Source phenomenon. It sketches a picture starting with the earliest forms of Free Software until today. The second part of the talk explains Selbstentfaltung and openness as the basic principles of the phenomenon of Free Software and similar phenomenons. It explains how these principles constitute a new mode of production and why this mode is stronger than the capitalist one. The talk gives a short introduction to a general model of development and shows how Free Software as well as capitalism develop(ed), according to this model. The third part draws the conclusion and extrapolates the discoveries to the near future. It is outlined where further expansion and deeper embedding of those basic principles can be expected.


A brief look into history

Let's go 24 years back: 1984

To peek into the future it is important to understand history

Conclusion: Very beginnings may be hard to notice

12 years later...: 1996

Conclusion: Good ideas grow because they are useful for people

Today: 2008

Conclusion: The basic principles are strong enough to spread out

Understanding history

First basic principle: Selbstentfaltung

What are those basic principles after all?

Conclusion: Something individuals and society benefit from

Second basic principle: Openness

Conclusion: Technology may make way for new societal phenomenons

A new mode of production emerges

Conclusion: Something wrong with classic economy ;-)

Power from new principles

Conclusion: Oekonux thesis: A new mode of production leads to a new society

Five-step model of development

Shown: Basic principles forming a new mode of production

Now: Modeling how development takes place

  1. Emerging of the new
    • First appearances of the germ form
    • Think: Free Software in 1984
  2. Crisis of the old
    • Slump of the old forms
    • Think: Crisis of classical Unices on midrange servers
  3. Disseminating and expanding
    • Germ form becomes important in the old process
    • Think: Free Software today
      Coexists with the old form
      Not always peaceful
    • Key question: Does it keep its germ form features?
      Here: The basic principles cannot be integrated into the old form
  4. Achieving dominance
    • The germ form becomes dominant form
    • Think: Proprietary software on the decline
  5. Restructuring society
    • Restructuring of entire system process

Conclusion: There is hope! :-)

Successful germ form: 200 years back

Conclusion: A new mode of production starting as a germ form can take over

A peek into the future

Some words of caution

Conclusion: But the forecast in question is only for 12 years ;-)

Vertical expansion

Conclusion: Vertical expansion is quite sure

Horizontal expansion

Conclusion: Horizontal expansion depends on many aspects

Deeper embedding

Conclusion: More than that will not happen within the next 12 years, supposedly

Wrap up


Conclusion: In 2020 you will know if I was right ;-)

Thank you

Conclusion: Thank you for your attention