Good point, Nik! Personally, I've been a proponent of open source software for well over 20 years. Such tunnel vision was more common in the early days, rare now. It is surprising to me to see this attitude coming from a prominent institution.

Let me try a few approaches...

1. You could start by counter-argument: open source runs the Internet (60-98%, depending on which measure, of internet servers/services are running on Linux). Therefore, by the exhibited logic, the museum should not be on the Internet. This of course is ridiculous and immediately exposes a flaw in the logic.

2. Whether to use or not use software comes down to trust. Even well-intentioned makers of software have allowed flaws introducing security vulnerabilities. But this happens regardless of the maker, open or proprietary (e.g., Microsoft). In general, open source might be murkier to assess who is behind it, but open source affords everyone the opportunity to see and assess the code themselves, a condition not available with proprietary software. It is my opinion, an opinion shared by many, is that having "many eyes" on an item will increase its quality and security.

I think the problem here is the gross overgeneralization of the aforementioned murkiness. If one is going to overgeneralize, you could easily apply it to Microsoft-made software, for example, since their software has been known to contain many, many security flaws over the years. Yet, people still have a high degree of trust for this software maker. And, yet, guess what? Even Microsoft is moving in the open source direction!

My main point is this: open source is not the important criteria, rather it is who has made and maintains the software that matters.

3. Again, I go back to the Linux community for the most obvious example. There are many other examples (like macOS Darwin, Windows Core OS, Android). In fact, with the prevalence of open source software in just about everything, you'd be left with pen & paper if you really wanted to fully avoid open source.


Lead developer & software architect for Walker Art Center

On 8/17/19 7:57 PM, wrote:
Message: 3
Date: Sat, 17 Aug 2019 12:45:20 -0700
From: Nik Honeysett<>
To: Museum Computer Network Listserv<>
Subject: Re: [MCN-L] Assistance needed with ULAN data
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset=utf-8

This is a great left-turn from a ULAN question. Both the point of view of OSS 
and the empowerment role of IT rather than as gatekeeper is fairly ubiquitous 
in our field, and while I know this comes from frustration, (and I am guilty) 
critique and antagonism, I?ve learned is not the answer. How do we engage and 
educate these folks?

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