Wed 7 Jun 2017 4:06PM

What is open source?

SC Simon Carter Public Seen by 102

Does anyone want to help?. I am currently working on content for a website soon to be launched. We've put this up for the moment, but haven't shared it, It's got a long way to go. www.just.coop/home
The green panel will be changed to have a heading of 'A Vision For a New Economy' Five Emerging Trends' one of which I have headed as 'World wide web, an open source solution'. What I now want to do is write an accessible page for the average person to help them understand the significance of open source on the future. Only problem is, I'm not entirely sure what is it's significance.
I don't want or need loads, as I say the goal is something that will make sense to the layperson, Bullet points might work well. The other four headers provisionally are 'Social enterprise, Why we are a coop. Relocalisation in a global village. The sharing & the gift economy, no money required & finally Reclaiming the commons, everyone a commoner.


Michel Bauwens Wed 7 Jun 2017 4:10PM

  • bullet point 1: open source, the sharing of knowledge, means that solutions to human and natural problems are available to all

John Ingleby Wed 7 Jun 2017 4:33PM

I would insert "freely" available to all, where "freely" doesn't necessarily mean "at no cost", but rather Richard Stallman's four freedoms:
- freedom to use the solution in any way
- freedom to investigate, research and develop the solution
- freedom to copy and share the solution on the same "free" terms
- freedom to share your modifications on the same "free" terms


Bob Haugen Wed 7 Jun 2017 4:35PM

"What is open source?" seems like the wrong title for this discussion. You seem to be asking about benefits of open source for a new economy. So I'll respond to that question.

Totally agree with @michelbauwens1 and @johningleby, for starters.

To add some other bullet points, in no particular order:
* You mentioned cooperatives and relocalization, both of which imply communities of some kind and size. If that community uses proprietary software or hardware, they can be denied or hindered or damaged by changes made by the proprietor. Egregious example, farmers can no longer legally repair their own John Deere tractors. Or PayPal stopping payments to organizations that they don't like for political reasons.
* If your community uses a suite of software, which most do, you may find it difficult or impossible to integrate it if you are blocked from modifying the software. (You may have difficulty anyway, but at least with open source, it is possible.)
* In the new world of AI and algorithmic solutions to problems, if you can't see the code, you can't trust the algorithm.


Bob Haugen Wed 7 Jun 2017 4:38PM

Yet another farmer example: you can be successfully sued it you replant the seeds you grew yourself.


Simon Carter Wed 7 Jun 2017 5:13PM

I found this quote, that I may include "The power of Open Source is the power of the people. The people rule" - Philippe Kahn What I want to convey is how open source can contribute to a new economy because it is 'a commons'. It does not seek to manufacture scarcity for profit, My real challenge is how to convey significance to the masses.


Kevin Flanagan Wed 7 Jun 2017 7:42PM

A bit of background on the differences between open source and free software.



Greg Cassel Wed 7 Jun 2017 10:54PM

Regarding the gnu.org article: the terms "open source" and "free software" are both obscure & confusing to people who aren't oriented towards the specialized meanings which different groups have "prescribed" for them.

Talk about "free software" with most folks, and I practically guarantee they'll start from entirely wrong assumptions. And, if one could somehow convince most people to associate "free software" with the goals of Free Software Foundation, then it'd become harder to distinguish "free-to-use" software when desired.

For most uses, I think that the best related term would be "open license". It's accurate, because it's through licensing (such as GNU, Creative Commons etc) that we intentionally limit our default copyright protections as the "sources" (not truly isolated) of "intellectual property".

Of course, we must connect "open license" or "open-licensed" to nouns such as "software", "art" or "media" to clarify our intended subject matter in different contexts.


Simon Carter Wed 7 Jun 2017 8:16PM

I'm tremendously grateful for the feedback, but I want to convey something deeper. We are all here because we know we are 'transitioning', it's in the title after all, but what does that mean for ordinary folk in terms of the internet?. I'm trying to explain it as of significance to people in ways that are indicative of a fundamental shift, or paradigm to use the favorite term of many. The internet has been hugely disruptive, some good, some bad. The printing press put mass information in the hands of the literate, & equally was both good & bad. What is the 'good' of the internet as part of the over-all transition that we seek?. I understand that's a wider question than just 'Open Source'.


Michele Kipiel Thu 8 Jun 2017 8:49AM

If I correctly understand your comment, your goal is to answer the question "what good did open source do to us?" or "open source, what is it good for?" regarding the internet.
If that's the case, here are my two cents:

  • Open source is the reason they can use the same browser to visit ALL the sites. If it wasn't for TBL, the internet would probably look like the cable tv landscape: you want to visit my site? Here, install my proprietary browser.
  • Android user? Thank Linus for the Linux kernel.
  • Chrome user? Thank the guys from the Chromium project.
  • Ask them if they ever used wikipedia and, if so, tell them about the creative commons licence

John Rhoads Thu 8 Jun 2017 7:48PM

What is the 'good' of the internet as part of the over-all transition that we seek? It provides answers with the least amount of repetitious work while maintaining a persistent and dynamic record of the evolution of knowledge.

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