Improving market acceptability with open source

The key question then seems to be: how to develop a standard that is semantically rich, can be useful and even commercially attractive within a short period of time (less than one year) and allows the owners of the information and knowledge to keep control and ownership. This is important for bringing new instruments to the market (section 1.3).

The suggestion put forward in this research is fourfold. The cost of use should be minimal; there should be as much application support as possible; development should be lightweight; the development should be supply/demand-oriented. These four points are elaborated below.

Low cost of use
All other things being equal, a lower price increases demand. The suggestion for this concept solution is to make the usage free of charge. Free of charge does not equate to low quality, as is exemplified by wikipedia, the free, on-line encyclopedia [88].
Much application support
Application support will depend on individual economic decisions on the part of the software vendors. What can be done, though, is to do away with all barriers for the software vendors. So: no mandatory membership of an organisation, no fees payable before you're allowed to access the Ontology, no risk by tying yourself to one platform vendor. This all can be achieved by making the Ontology open source. This makes the Ontology free in the sense of `gratis' and free in the sense of freedom to use, freedom to change, freedom to redistribute. One restriction that might be a good idea is to demand that the redistributed or changed Ontology contents be freely available under the same conditions, this as a safeguard against an embrace-and-extend attack by another market party.

With the same-condition restriction, the FDL is recommended as the most common [89], otherwise the popular CC license6.9 [90].

When a purely commercial Ontology approach is chosen, adoption will depend almost solely on political decisions in BC. Such a central position that covers most of BC's information exchange can only be granted by a large majority of parties, all in agreement on granting that central position to one commercial entity.

Lightweight development
Heavyweight committee-based development is slow. Some of this work is rightfully hard and should take a long time. The suggestion for the solution concept, though, is to develop the Ontology as multiple small pieces that can be made by just a few interested individuals, without having to resort to formal organisations and meetings. The NG Internet possibilities allow you to tie the various independently developed parts together in a web-based network.
Supply/demand oriented
To achieve immediate relevance and interest in the BC industry, a new development has to attach itself directly to the money-making process. If an Ontology can be build on basis of a supply/demand distinction, it can start lubricating the market mechanism in the BC industry. At the least it can provide a few innovating new ways to connect supply and demand.

Concluding, the proposal is for an open source web-based object library as a very interesting new effort at creating a useful basis for web-based communication in BC.

Reinout van Rees 2006-12-13