The brave new world of software analysis
The continuum of independent workstations connecting and communicating has expanded to include server-workstation relationships, peer-to-peer relationships, software-as-a-service, and cloud computing. Some of these relationships are voluntary, others are required. Some of these relationships allow greater degrees of computing freedom, others allow less. Some of these relationships require financial transfers for their continuation, others do not. Some of these relationships evince growing desires for power and control of computing activities to be centralized, others toward distributed control.
Many factors, some technological, some financial, some political, are inherent in the analysis and discussion of these relationships. Software and its development are at the center of these considerations, if not the master key to their understanding.
The annual assessment could be improved with categories that recognize required operational centralization versus distributed control, participatory open source development versus effective closed source, and required financial remuneration versus optional monetary participation. While not suggesting extreme positions in any direction, it remains the case that there are strong public as well as private policy considerations among these questions. The categories and their assessments should allow and reflect these policy possibilities.