Often in education, we get so wrapped up in the teaching and learning that we fail to note the trends that are driving the technology we love to integrate. One important trend is open source software. Everyone uses open source software and everyone is impacted by it. If you don’t think you use open source software your wrong and you just don’t understand how intrinsic it is to the Web 2.0. The most popular blogging software is WordPress which is run on top of MySQL and most Web 2.0 apps run on top of a LAMP stack with MySQL at their heart.
MySQL and it’s relationship to the LAMP stack are absolutely a driving force in the modern Read/Write web. Without this solution, we would still be reading static web pages and just writing email. Publishing would be the domain of the technorati (a relatively small group of smart people) and every web site that wanted a database would pay a database tax to a company to provide a proprietary solution. The electronic democracy of the read/write web would be forever changed.
The problem that we now all face is that MySQL is owned by Sun which was recently purchased by Oracle. Oracle has a long history of being proprietary. They sell big databases and they and their consultants make big bucks integrating them. Sun on the other hand, has a long similar history in big business with big solutions, but also a long history of supporting small, open source projects with many smart people behind them. Sun is much like IBM in this regard. The culture of Oracle is much different and much more proprietary.
If Oracle completely closes MySQL, the impact would be quick and devastating to innovation in the Web 2.0 because every new innovation would have an instant cost; a database engine. It is everyone’s responsibility to see that this doesn’t happen.