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08.12.19

Openwashing Report: Perceptions Twisted to the Point Where ‘Open Source’ Becomes Meaningless

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 3:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Weekly openwashing report

Summary: The substitution of the term “Free” (as in libre) with “Open” is proving to be costly; The “Open Source” people, who sought to make “Free software” obsolete, have totally lost control of the brand, which is nowadays misused to the point of being ‘throwaway’ marketing blanket

THE Linux Foundation and several other so-called ‘foundations’ don’t exist to serve the purposes they claim to support. We recently wrote several articles about how the “Linux Foundation” — Linux only in name — had been reduced to openwashing as a service (example here).

Days ago it seemed like prpl Foundation is something similar; is it just another openwashing foundation/PR front? Mind this press release [1, 2]. They speak of “cloud” and “standards”. Code isn’t even mentioned. As with the Linux Foundation, companies are just buying a ‘badge’ (like the “Linux” trademark for their lapel). Here’s a good example of it about SCADA: “Also look at who else is supporting these open source SCADA applications, such as members of Linux or Eclipse Foundations.”

“We’re quite troubled to see a bunch of people enriching themselves by abusing and selling away the perception of “open”; it’s misleading marketing, it’s reputation laundering or — as we like to call it — openwashing.”That’s just proprietary software; merely paying membership fees to the Linux Foundation and Eclipse Foundation won’t change that. We’re quite troubled to see a bunch of people enriching themselves by abusing and selling away the perception of “open”; it’s misleading marketing, it’s reputation laundering or — as we like to call it — openwashing. Cheapening of the term “open source” (sometimes with a dash as in “open-source”) shows that it isn’t the same as Free software. See “DigiFi Launches the World’s First Open-Source Loan Origination System” (notice the dash). This has nothing to do with open source and it is a clear if not deliberate distortion of the term. It was published days ago. So was “Sustainable beauty brand Beauty Kitchen says open-source collaboration must happen” (dash again). How about this one. An “open-source T-shirt design,” it says (again with a dash). The term open source (or “Open Source”) has never been so broad! Almost completely meaningless. Here’s another nonsensical buzzwords salad that includes openwashing, AI-washing and cloudwashing: “BlazeMeter Continuous Testing Platform harnesses power of multi-cloud, open source, AI-enabling organisations to achieve agility at enterprise scale” (BlazeMeter threw lots of buzzwords into this title/headline).

Where are we going? Where is “Open Source” headed? The brand doesn’t seem to mean very much anymore. Real FOSS is lost in a cloud of noise.

“The Open Source Initiative doesn’t seem too bothered by this.”Last but not least, it turns out that Datical pays sites to post this spammy press release [1, 2] in which Datical presents itself as “open source” while pushing proprietary software (“enterprise edition”); misuse and distortion of the term “open source” (or “Open Source”) is a case of openwashing and it has stretched the de facto definition to the point of being pretty meaningless. The Open Source Initiative doesn’t seem too bothered by this.

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