Why the Open Web Matters

Well, it’s certainly been an exciting last couple of weeks. And by exciting, we mean it’s both been a proud launch of our company, and something that has caused us great consternation. Mozilla appointed as CEO someone who is against equality – and this pains us as Mozilla’s mission statement is one we whole-heartedly agree with.

We here at rarebit really believe in both open source software and in the open web. Why? Because we believe that global participation in software development, security analysis, and creation of new standards can help mankind continue forward to a more equitable future.

Right now, there’s a war going on that is missed by most people. It’s part-patent war, part-licensing, and all collusion. You see, most web technology is built by very large companies with a lot of money and very worried lawyers. They file patents on everything.

Did you know that Microsoft has a patent on the double-click? It’s true. Technically, any double-click is a violation of that patent. In fact, we’re all probably in violation of hundreds of thousands of patents. There are more than you can possibly imagine. At many companies, employees are paid on a per-patent basis.

“But those are private companies,” you cry, “What about open projects like Android?” Let’s look at the Android operating system. Sure, it’s ‘open source,’ but good luck trying to build your own phone and install it. Android is, importantly, mostly open source. What is the “mostly” part? Well, Android is encumbered with thousands of weird licenses because it integrates with a lot of Google technologies. Those technologies are fiercely guarded. Chrome? Same deal.

We absolutely don’t believe that closed source software is evil or that we should live in a communist software state. We like building closed source software ourselves – and charging for it.

But it’s absolutely critical for the future of the web that we all continue to share what we’ve made and try to limit the lawyers.

That’s why at rarebit, we spent a lot of time giving code back to the community. In fact, we are developing a new project called bob that should make it easier for web developers to build and package web applications meant to run on the phones themselves. Think of it like a super lightweight Phonegap.

We want to continue this tradition as our company grows and we expand out. That’s why we want to make a promise, right here, right now, that we’re going to continue to make the web better, give back code to the development community, share what we’ve learned, and try to support the open web.

Hampton headHampton Catlin is the creator of Sass, Haml, Tritium, and Wikipedia mobile. He’s one part back end developer, one part startup leader, and one part chaos monky. He’s also CEO of rarebit, which he co-founded with his husband. He speaks at a lot of conferences, writes a lot of code, and spends way too much time on Twitter at @hcatlin.