November 16th, 2017

Blockchain shows open source’s fatal flaw—and a way forward

Java App Dev, Open Source, others, Programing, Programming Careers, by admin.

“26,000 new blockchain projects last year!” screamed the headline. “But only 8 percent remain active!” The implication is that blockchain’s future is at risk, given the high mortality rate among its offspring. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, we need many more blockchain projects to fail to clear out some of the noise, leaving room for “Linux of blockchain”-type projects to remain.

And yet there is cause for concern, though not in blockchain specifically. Instead, the greater concern should be for open source, which has never been more popular with software users even as the developer population feeding it has remained flat. Unless we can find ways to encourage more contributions, open source efforts like blockchain threaten to crumble under the weight of user expectations unmet by developer productivity.

Open source is the perfect petri dish

Years ago, open source was an imitator, aping the best proprietary software. Today, open source tends to be where innovation happens, such as in machine learning, mobile, cloud computing, and big data. As Cloudera cofounder Mike Olson has declared, “No dominant platform-level software infrastructure has emerged in the last ten years in closed-source, proprietary form.”

He’s right, and it’s why Deloitte is equally correct to highlight, in its “Evolution of Blockchain Technology” research, that “open source could be the ideal petri dish for attracting a critical mass of blockchain coding efforts, talent, and overlapping objectives that accelerate an ecosystem with common standards.” Open source not only affords the freedom for blockchain developers to tinker, but also to collaborate.

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