From an essay by Jim Whitehurst for Educause.
Open source is now recognized in institutions of higher education as a viable technology solution that provides superior value at a fraction of the cost of proprietary applications. That’s a good thing—but that’s not all it can do. Open source can be a transformative force in education. In particular, it can transform computer science curricula. Academic institutions that are consumers of open source need to reverse roles and shift gears to “preach what they practice” and place higher emphasis on integrating open source into the classroom.
Open source is an increasingly important skill set that many of today’s computer science graduates are lacking. This is not because students aren’t interested in open source, but because very few colleges and universities currently offer open-source classes. In addition to eager students, there are many professors who are very interested in teaching open source in their classrooms and labs.
“Here, we are the attacker. If you listen to all the squealing that Microsoft and Oracle do about us, clearly they’re worried about us.”
“We are working to democratize information,” Whitehurst said. “A lot of people don’t see the importance of that. But, ultimately, it is about information freedom and making sure information’s accessible.
“If we don’t fight those battles now, our entrenched competitors will lock up file formats, force you to use their software or force royalties,” he added. “Then the information stored in those formats will no longer be free.”
I’m just glad he stopped short of warning them to lock up their women and children.
So what happens when Matt Asay interviews Red Hat’s new CEO, Jim Whitehurst?
Sparks fly, that’s what.
Q:Tell me a little bit about yourself. What are the last three bands you listened to on your iPod?
A: I don’t have an iPod (or a Zune). It won’t play Ogg Vorbis files.
Q: You’re serious?!
Q: Are you a geek or something?
Do I have to throw away my iPod now?