Wealth, Opportunity, or Both?
Open Source gives people the freedom to exchange not only ideas but source code. In an information age driven by computing devices the right source code under the right circumstances can normally produce unprecedented wealth or opportunity. Traditionally wealth was produced through some form of restriction on the transfer of innovation via patents, copyrights, licensing restrictions. Opportunity was created by the opposite -- through the guarantee that others can use the technology as the foundation of their own efforts. However, the new information age has created a hybrid possibility -- the ability, through restrictiveness, to create opportunity. That is, by keeping you dependent on proprietary source code it is now possible to obtain the benefits of tracking your activities without you being aware of it (if you had access to the code you could disable this).
Right for Your Laboratory?
Philosophical questions aside, what is right for your laboratory? Is the LIMS like a laboratory instrument, something to be purchased and implemented, serviced when faulty, and eventually discarded when of no further use (in which case how it is licensed or works matters little)? Or are there larger implications here to be considered?
In an information age it is as if our world is slowly being cloned and reproduced again in a new one, one that is not constrained by our previous limitations. In an information age a music company does not need to reproduce music on discs, physically move them to stores, and wait for buyers to arrive. A sale can be made by a person sitting on a bus in the middle of Denver, direct from the source. In an information age several other companies can know about his purchase and begin their efforts to sell him more music of the same genre. If he buys more than a certain threshold of music he might be classified as a 'power buyer' and offered a deal by some music cataloging company to profit by licensing music to others. In an information age all of these things, and more, are suddenly possible. Now replace that music buyer with your laboratory manager. All the same holds true. Which instruments you buy and how often they are serviced, where your customers are geographically located and how often they purchase from you, etc. are all fair game.
The isolated laboratory no longer exists in this information age. Whether you like it or not you have become a part of a larger network of laboratories. Where the classic goals of the previous age were to automate, simplify, and control data flows in an out of the brick-and mortar laboratory in this new age what you are buying, how often you are buying it, and when you are going to buy is of great value to companies including your better-funded competitors. The way to deal with this is to utilize systems where you have complete control over the source code and can commission people to read/analyze it.
This new age of computing does not conform to the old rules. What occurs does not happen in isolation, but rather with the assistance of other elements (when you buy something from a website not only does the seller know of it but any router/computer involved in the transaction). This world of computing is cooperative and not isolated as one might be led to believe, meaning that your activities can be tracked and sold to the highest bidder. This can have dire implications for smaller organizations as they can be unwittingly feeding their competition enough information to bury them. The way around this is to adopt Open Source and weed out tracking elements.Go Back
Citation: Information Age Opportunities. (2015). Retrieved Thu Mar 23 00:13:24 2017, from http://www.limsexpert.com/cgi-bin/bixchange/bixchange.cgi?pom=limsexpert3;iid=readMore;go=1430497713