Bob Young, Open Source, and Crowds

Posted on November 1, 2011

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Outside of the software field, the name Bob Young probably doesn’t ring a bell. A founding member of Red Hat, Inc., now a leader in open source technology and Linux distribution, Bob Young founded Lulu in 2002. What began as a means for authors to self-publish their books has grown over the years to include e-books, physical books in black-and-white and glossy color, and calendars, with its own marketplace and custom book publicity services. Both companies tie into Young’s belief that computers and the internet foster innovation and that the users in conjunction with each other are in a position to utilize it best.

Lulu emphasizes the first half of that belief: the company allows anyone with access to a computer to print his or her own book. With more than one million unique creators registered to the site, and twenty thousand new titles each month, Lulu has allowed a great many people to bypass traditional publishing routes. Every creator keeps the rights to his or her work and can license them in a number of different ways, be it Creative Commons or some other type.

Red Hat exemplifies the second half of that belief in that it functions as a standard certification company for the open source operating system Linux. Linux allows a user to operate his or her machine outside of the binary, either Microsoft or Apple, tradition; it also supports free and open source software, meaning that users can change the code of the operating system as well as use a variety of user-created and commercial software.

No matter what field he enters, be it technology-based or product-based — the latter of which is still heavily dependent on technology — Bob Young stays true to his principles.

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