Monkey Magic by Tsukku

How China Can Get Open Source Right

China’s has come along way from the days of the celestial kingdom’s defeat and the hundred years of humiliation. Today the Chinese diaspora will celebrate the new year in almost every country across the globe. This is pretty amazing considering that most sons of the celestial kingdom would never have even considered setting foot outside of it. For them the boundaries of the celestial kingdom were the boundaries of civilization itself, to be crossed only when absolutely necessary.

However, many have had no choice but to do exactly that. Indeed, some literally had no choice as many were kidnapped and ferried away to distant lands where they were placed into forced labour. Yes, there’s many a sad tale to be told in that regard, but betters times are on the way, China is on the ascendancy! However, it’s still important for those of Chinese heritage to remember the past and to learn from it.

Well, as someone of Chinese heritage, I’d like to honour the past, present, and future of China by sharing a model I discovered while investigating the subject of open source software. It’s a model of how to build a national open source software system that can compete with any commercial process currently available. It’s a simple model, there’s nothing “creative” about it, quite the contrary actually. I regard it as a discovery rather than a creation, a discovery made while engaging in the timeless effortless action of observation, and today I commend that discovery to your consideration in honour of the new year!

Okay, so in the west open source projects are usually contributed to by volunteers while commercial software is usually developed by highly paid professionals. This puts open source projects at a disadvantage versus their commercial counterparts, as open source contributors have to balance the needs of the project with the needs of their full-time occupation.

In order to avoid this situation, open source projects need to secure a full-time compliment of contributors. My analysis leads me to believe that the best way to accomplish this is to leverage China’s public (and if possible private) educational institutions.

The faculty and students of these institutions could double as open source project managers and project contributors respectively. The projects (or project time) could be incorporated into the curriculum of the educational institutions. Open source projects of a more sophisticated nature could be coordinated across China’s 2000 plus tertiary education institutions, while less complex projects could be coordinated across China’s secondary educational institutions.

At the tertiary level alone, this would give China’s open source projects one million plus potential contributors. When class time and homework assignments are factored in, no existing commercial organization would be able to equal the amount of man hours it could allocate to a project(s). If coordinated properly, extremely rapid iterations could be facilitated effortlessly.

One example of what could be produced by such a system is a Wikipedia like product that I call “Sinopedia.” Sinopedia would differ from Wikipedia in that it would have a dual use or dual purpose design, on one hand, Sinopedia would serve as a Wikipedia style public encyclopedia and on the other, it would serve as a medium through which all of China’s students would be required to submit their written assignments. This would allow faculty members to populate the public encyclopedia, at the click of a button, with the best submitted assignment results. The result being less duplicated efforts and extreme efficiency throughout the system.

Sinopedia would be developed and maintained by the computer science students of China’s public universities under the direction of the appropriate faculty. The principle is similar to that used in a university hospital. Sinopedia would be hosted on the servers of universities or the public education system, thereby eliminating the need to solicit public donations like U.S. based Wikipedia. The version of Sinopedia that I have in mind, would also allow the public to make and edit entries in the encyclopedia in a similar to Wikipedia. In a similar manner other categories of open source software could be developed and maintained via the education system, including operating systems, an open source web browser, or a not-for-profit public utility version of U.S. based Twitter.

The system could be refined and exported to other developing (or not so developing) jurisdictions throughout the world. So there you go, that’s how open source is done right, a product not of creation but of observation. The observant mind does not labour, therefore it apprehends without effort!

Happy Chinese New Year!



Exceptional circumstances require exceptional insights. Consideration is the cost of comprehension, the former must be tendered before the latter is rendered.

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The Architect

The Architect

Exceptional circumstances require exceptional insights. Consideration is the cost of comprehension, the former must be tendered before the latter is rendered.