This article talks about how Google and everyone else should embrace open standards on the internet. I completely agree with this philosophy (either because I think its a good idea or because I have been brainwashed by open-internet-free-information propaganda), and the article is very interesting (and a little too long).
The main idea is that “open” is better for everyone, including Google, because it promotes company growth but also industry growth. It is about how open is the future, and that Google promotes open and you should too. (See Wikinomics).
You see the success and importance of open standards especially in infrastructure decisions. TCP/IP must be a standard so everyone can use it. Railroads must be a standard size so all trains can use them. Outlets must be standard so everyone can plug in. Gas stations must have gas that can go into all cars (that’s why I think the most important change for the future of green cars is new infrastructure).
We all know examples of when open standards fail. Everyone has file conversion problems (.wmv on a Mac? .docx on an old computer? ) and it’s annoying. Who wants DRM protected iTunes song formats and ebook formats that no other program can read? There is still the tension with companies who think that closed standards and file formats are in their best interest.
I think open is also the future, because it just makes sense. That’s why everyone hates browser compatibility (IE <= 8 ). With computers especially, you just want things to work together, but this is not usually the case, and probably because of lack of use of open standards.
It’s especially interesting in the article how Jonathan Rosenberg notes that Google’s search code and algorithms must be closed source:
While we are committed to opening the code for our developer tools, not all Google products are open source. Our goal is to keep the Internet open, which promotes choice and competition and keeps users and developers from getting locked in. In many cases, most notably our search and ads products, opening up the code would not contribute to these goals and would actually hurt users. The search and advertising markets are already highly competitive with very low switching costs, so users and advertisers already have plenty of choice and are not locked in. Not to mention the fact that opening up these systems would allow people to “game” our algorithms to manipulate search and ads quality rankings, reducing our quality for everyone.
Yes…but doesn’t that conflict with the opening premise that “open wins”? I think it does, but it’s interesting to think about. Can you espouse the policy “open wins” when your main product is not open? Maybe Google is right about having its search source closed, but if open wins, Google search would lose.