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Dr Jennifer Barth, Research Director, Symmetry

State of Open: The UK in 2023

Phase One: “A Year in Review”

The OpenUK State of Open report highlights the increasing significance of Open Source Software (OSS) in the UK, with 4.5% of the population having GitHub accounts by January 2023. The report emphasises the growing interest in OSS consumption, contribution, and distribution, citing global attention to metrics and adoption barriers. It recognises the potential for new OSS communities amid economic and energy challenges and highlights the geopolitical discourse on financing, governance, and collaboration. Sustainability, including support for maintainers and environmental considerations, is a focal point. The report anticipates exploring the paradox of growth and sustainability in later phases of 2023 and invites engagement at the State of Open Con 2023, where policy, government, law, and innovation converge to advance the OSS conversation.

Jennifer Barth, Research Director, Symmetry

With every State of Open report published OpenUK explores new ways to show the value of Open Source Software to the UK economy.
This time the calculation is simple and powerful: by January 2023, 4.5% of the UK population had a GitHub account taking the lead per capita among selected other countries with high growth rates in GitHub accounts.
The UK continues to build its Open Source Software capabilities and OpenUK continues to bring attention to this growing ecosystem.
Throughout 2022 we have seen increasing accounts of and interest in Open Source Software consumption, contribution and distribution. This is encouraging, as is the in- creased attention global reports are giving numbers and conversations, barriers and drivers to adoption. We still can’t always obtain extensive data focused solely on the UK but available data is growing and that, alongside the willingness to collaborate on this endeavour, is encouraging. In particular, burgeoning businesses and communities that consider metrics like downloads and contribution allow us different ways to cut the data and therefore a multitude of ways to understand patterns of uptake and productivity.
The current cost of living and energy crises may enable new communities and Open Source ecosystems to grow and flourish both in the UK. And, importantly, it’s becoming a global and geopolitical conversation. Those politics are specifically the issues of financing, governance and collaboration – that is international collaboration as well as locally and, of course, a maturing focus on security. These moves will create opportunities for committed individuals to expand, and get paid for, the brilliant work they do each day.
Committed individuals also need to be sustained and there will be a necessary focus on maintainers and funding as well as the economics of Open Source in the UK and the impact of ongoing Security legislation and the need for “Curation” of Open Source.
To sustain people is one part of our commitment to Open Source Software. Sustainability on a broader scale encapsulates even more. We continue to weave sustainability into every aspect of research so that it does not become a silo, sitting separately beside the business and community objectives of Open Source Software adoption but rather runs through everything we do and everything we support.
The question for later phases of 2023’s OpenUK State of Open reports is to consider the paradox of growth and sustainability – both the longevity and maintenance of existing interactions and the focus on environmental sustainability.
You can find all of these pieces of an intricate and enticing puzzle at the State of Open Con 2023 where policy, value, government, people, law, experience and innovation come together to continue to move the conversation forward.

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