What Does Open Source Mean to Our World Community?

Open source is more than software. It’s more than a license choice. It’s more than one person or company or entity or idea, but rather it is the collection of ideas and concepts, whether sounds, feelings, images or words, that encourage shared knowledge, shared contribution, shared benefit.

If two minds are better than one, than 7 billion minds are better than any other combination possible.

Embracing open source as an ideology means to embrace community, to give and to receive, to yield the power of the collective conscious and collective unconscious of every individual, together, at once. At the core of the open source ideal is the idea that information should be free, and that by having information we all are empowered. In a time where curiosity and creativity are handcuffed by the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act (DMCA) and it’s not even legal to take apart your coffee machine to see whats inside, I find it refreshing and rewarding to participate in something bigger than myself where information can be shared and is encouraged to be shared across borders and languages and political affiliations.

A common misconception about open source is that money cannot be made by using open concepts as the foundation for business; but I disagree. Open source 3D printing has evolved rapidly and becomes more affordable every day by not having a licensed or proprietary overhead (thank you RepRap and the other pioneers). Microcontroller layouts and circuit board designs also have harnessed the same benefits through projects like Arduino, resulting in a 90% cost reduction versus traditional, closed controllers. Open source programming languages like PHP grow more rapidly with increasingly increasing stability versus their closed source competitors. Blog management software from WordPress took the web by storm, easily becoming the most dominant, versatile content management system in just a matter of five years, accomplishing a task the giant corporations could not have. In the days of for-profit open source, the code is no longer the product and the consumer wins by having options as to who and how their systems get serviced. It’s hard to talk about open source and not mention Linux, and through Linux our small company has tools that compete with the big boys for which I am grateful, but the prime example of for-profit, open source success is Red Hat, who broke the billion dollar mark in recent history, not through direct sales of software, but through enhancements, support, consulting and system design among many other streams of income.

At this day and age, where vendor lock is a scary yet real problem, one of the few ways to avoid it to to implement systems that can be managed by any number of worldwide experts. Open source offers a real solution here through competitive technologies, stable platforms, opportunities to re-invent, improve, enhance around the individuals and back upstream around the world.

Is the strength based in the thousands of minds focused on solving one problem?

Is the advantage of open source the ease of access to the product? Or to the documentation? Or to a competent community, willing to help each other tackle the impossible?

I don’t know what the most exciting and promising part of open source is for you, but I know that my reasons are ever changing and evolving, liquid to the problems we face, morphing to our needs, and benefiting our customers for each of their unique applications and needs.

So people of the world, as you open your code and open your patents, I hope you too find peace in the reward of your opening hearts and minds. And as you go into your lives and you are faced with challenges, remember that you have a community, maybe I’d even say a family, ready to help you, ready to empower you to help yourselves, ready to say no to the status quo and demand the excellence we all deserve, together, moving forward through time and space as all of our individual challenges and goals somehow unite into a destination of fascination, connectedness, trust and monetary savings.

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