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Despite all the bashing, why the open-source world still needs Meta

While Web 3.0 is inevitable in its march toward reality, we must not write off Meta in its quest to lead that march from the frontline.
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“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected.” – Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook Inc (now rebranded as Meta) arrived on the scene in February 2004. The world hasn’t been the same since. What started as an improvement on Facemash, a side project Zuckerberg & co put together to compare girls in Harvard, quickly grew into a tech behemoth.

Facebook pushed the frontiers of Web2 in more ways than one. Now, at the cusp of Web3, Meta’s pioneering work is blazing the trail. That said, Meta is currently one of the most hated platforms, and for good reasons. But does Meta deserve all the hate it gets?

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“It is undeniable that Meta has ushered in the era of social media from the user side story, tracking and predictive advertising from the marketer side story and an ocean of open source code and apps from the developer side story. An entire ecosystem has risen on the shoulders of Meta. While Web 3.0 is inevitable in its march toward reality, we must not write off Meta in its quest to lead that march from the frontline. Meta and its vast ecosystem of coders, developers, creators, acquisition ventures and users are readying themselves for a new tsunami in the machine learning world,” said Ambarish Ray, co-founder and CEO, Digital Dogs Content and Media. 

In the process of blitzscaling, Meta has developed a set of tools and methods, ranging from data storage software to manage massive volumes of user data to hardware designs for data centres. To Meta’s credit, it open-sourced a lot of these projects. So let’s go easy on the Meta bashing, and give credit where it’s due.

GraphQL

The Facebook team had a hard time integrating the News Feed feature to its iOS app. The development process was plagued by bugs as there was no standard for data flow between the front and back ends. Enter GraphQL, a query language for APIs and runtime to fulfil the queries with existing data. It provides a complete and understandable description of the data in API, giving clients the power to ask for exactly what they need.


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Cassandra

Cassandra is an open-source, distributed, wide-column store NoSQL database management system to handle swathes of data across multiple commodity servers while maintaining high availability and avoiding single points of failure. Cassandra supports multi-data centre clusters, with asynchronous masterless replication allowing clients to operate with low latency. Cassandra was designed to integrate Amazon’s Dynamo’s distributed storage and replication techniques with the data and storage engine concept of Google’s Bigtable. Today, it is one of the most popular databases in the world. 

Hadoop

Facebook has improved on the open-source Hadoop data-processing technology. Though Yahoo did a lot of heavy lifting in its early development, Facebook was one of the first organisations to adopt Hadoop and build tools for the platform. 

PyTorch

PyTorch, a framework for creating deep learning (DL) models, has grown in popularity and efficiency since its launch in 2017. Brewed inside the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) campus, this open-source machine learning framework–built on Torch–adds flexibility and speed in deep neural network deployment. PyTorch is now one of the most widely used libraries among developers, researchers and academicians.

React

React.js is an open-source JavaScript library used to create user interfaces for single-page applications. Jordan Walke, a Facebook software engineer, invented React. React debuted in 2011 on Facebook’s newsfeed and Instagram.com in 2012. 

React enables developers to create large web applications that can change data without reloading the page. React’s main goal is to be quick, scalable, and easy to use. It can be combined with other JavaScript libraries or frameworks, such as Angular JS in MVC. Of late, it has surpassed Google’s Angular framework as the go-to library for developing “front-end” applications.

“Meta has launched significant initiatives to create its open source community reaching 700 repositories & 200 projects. However, while, its projects on react native have been of great significance to the app developer community, it has tasted limited success in engaging a large base of external ML contributors and users for its open-source repositories on platforms such as Github,” said Barnik Chitran Maitra, Managing Partner & CEO, Arthur D Little. 

Meta was not the first to provide tools for developing mobile apps with web technologies, nor was it the first to provide open-source libraries for developing web applications. While haters may hate, there is no denying that combining these two ideas made Meta the leaders they are today.

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Sri Krishna
Sri Krishna is a technology enthusiast with a professional background in journalism. He believes in writing on subjects that evoke a thought process towards a better world. When not writing, he indulges his passion for automobiles and poetry.

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