In recent years, the digital economy has emerged as a powerful catalyst and driving force for global economic growth. Through collaborative efforts, open source initiatives play a pivotal role in driving digital technology innovation, ultimately shaping the trajectory of the digital economy. By fostering a robust open source innovation ecosystem, we can expedite the adoption and implementation of digital technology, thereby fueling economic development and unlocking fresh opportunities for the transformation and modernization of our economy and society.
Grasping the significance and value
Today, open source has emerged as a key model for constructing a robust digital technology innovation system. While open source initially originated in the field of software, it is now widely used in various fields such as electronic hardware, automotive operating systems and cloud computing.
At present, open source software has emerged as a prominent source of innovation and a vital “repository of standard parts” within the software industry. Many important open source applications now serve as the foundation for critical digital infrastructure. Open source technology has not only supported many internet products but has also boosted the growth of numerous small, agile and innovative companies.
The “user innovation network” in open source innovation is the core element that helps basic software or hardware unleash innovation potential and derive mature business models, with considerable spillover effects. Open source offers considerable cost savings for companies undergoing digital transformation by eliminating the need to invest in redundant development efforts.
However, open source does not guarantee security. While open source software offers easy accessibility and usability, the absence or failure of security review mechanisms can lead to serious security risks. As the use of open source code becomes an irreversible trend, enhancing open source supply chain security requires a combination of automated tools, best practices, open source education, and collaboration.
Exploring path of practice
Open source innovation plays a crucial role in driving the high-quality development of the digital economy. To fully harness this potential, we need to focus on four aspects.
First, it is essential to foster an open source culture and develop talent in the field of digital technology. We should prioritize the education and promotion of open source culture, and integrate it throughout all stages of talent development. Encouraging higher education institutions to actively embrace and promote open source education is of utmost importance.
Government departments can contribute by jointly designing training programs and partnering with universities, research institutions, companies, and investment and financing agencies. This collaborative effort aims to establish effective mechanisms and pathways for open source theory, practical implementation, and the growth of the open source industry.
Second, we must optimize open source evaluation and encourage digital technology innovation. The contribution of the open source ecology is not often explicitly evaluated and recognized in the existing scientific and technological evaluation system, which is not conducive to the long-term investment of volunteers in the construction of the open source ecosystem.
In this regard, higher education and research institutions need to shift their evaluation orientation and place greater emphasis on recognizing individual contributions to open source communities. They must also guide students to engage in and contribute to the open source ecosystem.
Third, it is crucial to prioritize open source security and foster a thriving digital ecosystem. Open source serves as a key R&D model for the underlying technologies that propel the growth of the digital industry. Therefore, ensuring the security of its supply chain security has far-reaching implications for the entire digital sector. It is imperative to conduct a systematic examination of the supply chain systems for open source software and hardware, taking into account both national and industrial security. By establishing a robust risk monitoring and evaluation system, we can effectively identify and prevent potential crises within these supply chains.
Fourth, it is essential to solidify the open source ecosystem and provide support for the development of digital platforms. In recent years, the overall complexity of the open source ecosystem has continued to increase, with a large base of developers and huge market demand. This provides favorable conditions for the development of open source and the digital economy, while also giving rise to some problems.
It is urgent to enhance the professionalism of open source practitioners, standardize the establishment of open source institutions, and improve related laws and regulations. We suggest that government departments define basic software and underlying hardware as digital public goods and encourage systematic research on these products.
As digital transformation accelerates, it is necessary to use the open source innovation model to connect the underlying chains of digital technology, and develop digital public products with independent intellectual property rights, with the goal of enhancing the technological strength of the digital industry and the digital economy. The creation of an open source ecosystem requires us to establish connections between policies, technology, industry, businesses and talent, and provide institutional and policy guarantees for the innovative development of digital technology.