What is Open Source really about?

This question has me pondering the broader values behind open source: openness to inspection, openness to revision and improvement, working together in a commons, not in a doctrinaire centralized system but rather in an informally organized (if at all), decentralized coming together based upon common interest. That's not to say there aren't rules.

Scientific research has traditionally been open source. I recommend James Burke's Connections for some wonderful perspectives on this subject.

The law is open source. You can look at it, look at cases, examine it, learn from it, work to change it. There are high barriers to entry, but in general it's there for you to explore.

But what what about government itself? How open is that? What about things happening in biology? In industry? How about those open source car initiatives and projects that are resulting in actual cars hitting the roads?

My post today on BlogHer goes over some recent happenings in open source, not just in software. Got me musing this.