Original Post Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Open Source software is software that is distributed publicly with all of its source code.  Users of open source software are encouraged to review the source code, make changes to it and share those changes with the rest of the user community.  The value in open source is that providing the source code to the user community allows those in the community who are willing and able to make improvements, add features, and fix bugs. Open source takes the notion of peer review to the next level.   It means that instead of just a development team, the entire user community can potentially be collaborating to make the code better.  Even those members of the user community that are not technically savvy are encouraged to contribute to the quality of the software.  The premise for open source is that the more varied views and perspective that go into crafting and growing a software application, the more that application will deliver customer delight.  Eric Raymond in his essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar  likens the model of developing open source software to a “great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches".  

Given this you would think that government organizations would be hesitant to venture into the use of open source but I was pleasantly surprised when I happened upon this website .  The NASA Open Source Agreement is an Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license to allow public release of NASA funded software.  NASA believes that open source software is revolutionizing the way that software is created, improved and used.  They think it is the best way to keep the public apprised of what they are doing and a great way for students, scientists and programmers to contribute their expertise and skills to NASA endeavors.