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The thing about open source…

By Bijan Sabet, contributor

I just finished reading the Steve Jobs biography. He was a complicated genius. #understatement

One thing in particular (amongst several other items) is his view about Google Android.

It was clear that he looked at Android as enemy number one. Steve looked at Android as a direct rip off — look and feel, and functionality (multitouch). He wanted to see Android wiped off the face of the planet. Ultimately he felt like it was stealing from the original.

I’ve talked to a number of folks that build proprietary software and many of them feel similar. They think that open source desktops, database, operating systems, browsers, etc are basically clones of their proprietary counterparts but with a “radical” business model attached.

I’ve been thinking about this notion for awhile. Is it true?

There is something so powerful about the open source movement. The idea that a community can come together on a global basis and design, build and ship code is absolutely amazing.

In some ways i think about Linux the way I think about Wikipedia. How is it possible that the community could come together and make something so incredible.

But that comparison isn’t perfect. I don’t think Wikipedia is just an open source alternative to Encyclapedia Britanica. It’s a vastly different experience (breath, depth and real time).

I think we need to aim even higher with open source movement. It’s not just about an open source version of Photoshop or Windows or MS Office. It has to be bigger and more ambitious than free and open. It has to be better.

Those open source projects that do this are the one that blow me away.

Bijan Sabet is a partner with Spark Capital, where his deals have included Twitter, Tumblr, Boxee, Foursquare , Stack Exchange, ExFM, OMGPOP, Bug Labs, SendMe, Runkeeper and Academia.edu.