How Open Source Can Solve Silicon Valley's Engineering Crisis

Matt Asay | TechRepublic | July 15, 2014

Silicon Valley may think itself the center of the technology universe, but 76% of open-source development happens elsewhere, a rich talent pool for engineer-hungry startups.

Silicon Valley may think itself the center of the universe, but when it comes to open source, it can only muster a third-place finish. According to an analysis of top GitHub contributors, both Europe and the rest of the United States develop more open-source software than Silicon Valley. While this may not be surprising given Europe's long-standing affection for open source, it is a reminder that much of the best development talent doesn't live along Highway 101 and probably never will.

Who contributes the most code?  The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mims recently took Silicon Valley venture capitalists to task for funding the wrong kinds of startups -- you know, advertising funded startups that eschew "basic research and development that transforms lives."  Had he looked at GitHub, however, Mims may have noticed a different picture.

While open-source developers can be as faddish as the next person, one of the cardinal tenets of open source is that it encourages developers to "scratch their own itches." In other words, solve pressing problems that they may have, regardless of venture funding.  In this way, open source gave us Linux (operating system), Hadoop (big data analytics), Lucene (search), JBoss (application server), Drupal (web content management), MySQL (database), Day (web content management), nginx (web serving) and more, many of which projects emerged from Europe (not surprising given the wealth of innovation coming from Europe today)...