a-z tech jargon
Open Source

The real meaning of… Open Source

O stands for Obfuscation, Open Source and Object Oriented Programming.

Obfuscation is a classic example of a good initiative that somehow gets derailed and becomes a menace. Like traffic policing used to be, before the profit motive corrupted it.

Obfuscation was originally a noble form of protection, a formal objective to deliberately make programming code hard to understand. This was done to protect intellectual property and thwart the reverse engineering attackers who wanted to steal the company’s intellectual property. There was even an obfuscator tool to automate the process of stripping out helpful metadata and renaming classes and codes and variables with misleading signposts. Old school compiling programming languages lent themselves to obfuscation. In the days when everyone in the organisation was on the same side, this was a way of saying everyone in the company had each other.

That power of evasiveness corrupted the IT department. Soon they had devised their own language and devised a code of conduct ironically dubbed ‘Open Source’. Now they can defy you by pretending to be helpful. Every question you ask is met with an even more confusing statement, such as “it depends what you want, it’s horses for courses”. But we outsiders can never gain access to the promised land of comprehension because we will never know the right questions to ask. 

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Halfway between that stage, we have empowerment. And empowerment makes some programmers bloody empossible. Oh, sorry, did I say programmers? It’s developers now. Or coders. Or whatever name they want to be called. 

To some, the words Obfuscation, Open Source and Object Oriented Programming all conjure up the same feelings of dread. 

Maybe it was better under the old proprietary regime. At least they made the training courses start on time. 


Also read:

The real meaning of… ‘As A Service’
The real meaning of… Bitcoin
The real meaning of… ChatBots
The real meaning of Disruptive Technology
The real meaning of… the e-prefix
The real meaning of… Futurology
The real meaning of…3G and 4G
The real meaning of… Hard-wired
The real meaning of... Information Age - interruptive technology
The real meaning of… Jabber
The real meaning of…. Killer apps, Kyoto, Keyword stuffing and Knowledge
The real meaning of… Legacies and Leverage, Leadership and Language
The real meaning of… Mobile, Machines and the Malware Man-in-the-Middle


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Nick Booth

Nick Booth worked in IT in the UK’s National Health Service, financial services and The Met Police, witnessing at first hand the disruptive effects of new technology. As a journalist and analyst, his mission is to stop history repeating itself.

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