The Value of Clear Code is Clear

Here's an interesting move in the highly important area of climate science: We are pleased to announce the creation of the Climate Code Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by David Jones, Nick Barnes, and Philippa...

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Here's an interesting move in the highly important area of climate science:

We are pleased to announce the creation of the Climate Code Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by David Jones, Nick Barnes, and Philippa Davey to promote public understanding of climate science. The Foundation will continue work on the Clear Climate Code project, and also related activities, encouraging climate scientists to improve and publish their software.

The Foundation intends to work with climate scientists, funding bodies, national and international organisations, and science publishers. We hope to establish climate science in the forefront of science software quality and transparency.

This might sound far from enterprise open source, but the way the Climate Code Foundation is proceeding shows the connection:

The work of the Foundation on climate science software includes continuing the Clear Climate Code project, to clarify the software, and the Open Climate Code project, to encourage its publication. The Foundation provides a unifying framework for these efforts.

What that amounts to then, is to create a community around the code, encourage them to work on it, and "clarify it" - essentially, hack on it – and then publish it. That's pretty much standard open source practice; what this implies is that open source is needed in order to have confidence in the code running climate science models. In other words, the results of those models aren't enough: you must have access to the code to check the detailed logic too.

That applies to any discipline that uses computers to model something – including the business world. It's why closed source models are pretty limited in their usefulness for companies, since it means you must trust implicitly all the assumptions that have been baked in. Far better to adopt the approach of the Climate Code Foundation and to go clear – and open.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.

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