How do you define “big”?

Full disclosure: There are several library-related topics that I simply don’t write about, for one reason or another–inherent conflicts of interest, various agreements, total ignorance…

One of those is integrated library systems, so I have no direct comments to make about a set of conversations currently taking place within various blogs, FriendFeed and probably other venues.

I do have one side comment, though.

One of the parties in these conversations says there are three “big open source applications”–Firefox, Apache and Linux. (The discussion that follows leads me to believe that there’s an implication that these are the big open source applications.) That statement makes me wonder how “big” is defined–setting aside the question of whether Apache or Linux are “applications.”

I’m posting this on my blog, which uses WordPress software, which is open source software. WordPress software runs millions of blogs. Is that big?

My part-time job is as Editorial Director of the Library Leadership Network, which is in the midst of a platform change.

  • The old platform is MediaWiki, which is open source software. MediaWiki is also the platform for an obscure little wiki some of you may have heard of: Wikipedia.
  • The new platform is Drupal, which is open source software. My sense is that Drupal is used for one heck of a lot of content management systems (albeit probably few with the size or traffic of Wikipedia, which of course runs on scalable proprietary open source software).

I’m as much an open source independent as I am an open access independent. I’m quite happy with Vista (and will move to Windows 7 soon) and, although I’ve tried OpenOffice, I much prefer Word2007 and Office2007 in general. But I believe a few million people use OpenOffice, which is open source software.

So I guess it depends on your definition of “big.”

(I’m guessing there are some other open source programs used by millions of people, which for me is a pretty good definition of “big”; I only included ones I’m personally familiar with.)

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