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The Yang of Open Standards, the Yin of Open Source

Every time I think about the relationship between Open Standards and Open Source I am reminded of a fascinating talk by Paul Saltman, a biochemist from Caltech, invited to speak to a Chinese forum years ago, about national food policy for China, later published in Caltech’s Engineering & Science, titled The Yang of Nutrition…The Yin of Food.

I am not a nutritionist, or biochemist, or expert on food -- though in more than one occasion I’ve been known to venture in the art - but I do know a little about open standards and open source - let’s just say enough to be sentient of the wholeness and synergy in which these opposites attract and coexist, perhaps not unlike The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

By the very nature of our industry, open standards are not just important, they are indispensable, the foundation upon which every internetworking protocol is based, the pre-requisite of interoperability, so naturally we take open standards seriously, the yang side, as it were.  But what is often overlooked, just as the case with the yin of food in Saltman’s parallel, is the yin of open source, some of which is in fact the implementation, the other side, or yin as it were, of these open standards and more, with things like jabber or tigerstripe just to name a few.  We’d like to tell you more about what we’re doing with these and other open projects, soon to be covered in this blog.

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1 Comments.


  1. Hi Michael, this is an important theme, and one I wrote about back in 2003 for the folks at O’Reilly — see http://onlamp.com/lpt/a/3660 (Tim Berners-Lee would be happy that the URL still works!). We’ve definitely focused on this in the Jabber/XMPP community over the years, but it’s not necessarily easy to maintain that fine balance between open standards, open source, and an open community (I think of them as the three legs of the stool, and all three are key).

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