Open Source

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One model that successfully harnesses the power and commitment of talent and engages that talent in an ongoing way over time is open source. The term “open source” is traditionally used in the software arena and designates a process in which anyone can contribute to or access code, unlike traditional software development, which is proprietary and owned by the company that produces it and governed by intellectual property law. In open source, those who do the work volunteer their time and effort, and these volunteer, participative communities are both long running and capable of tackling multiple problems and opportunities simultaneously.

The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance

Open source communities operate on a level beyond crowdsourcing, going beyond the one-way and one-time-only arrangements in which a lot of people give their ideas or answers but don’t engage with each other over time. Instead, the way they operate is better described as open sourcing, where contributors work together as a community, building on each other’s work, to arrive at the best solution to a complicated problem. These communities involve many people working toward a similar outcome. They usually involve a diverse community of people who opt in as a way to work for a common cause about which they are passionate. And they produce results: they are more responsive to fast-changing environments and better at accomplishing “big, hairy, audacious goals” than any one single firm or organization.

The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance

The big human battle of this century is the democratisation of data and all forms of knowledge, and the introduction of digital government with the help of free and open source software. Whilst undoubtedly the reaction of the planet (Jackson 2013) to the explosion of human activities with climate change and other symptoms is the largest change process that has ever occurred in human history in the physical realm, the exponential growth of the Internet of Things and digital information flows is triggering the largest change process in the realm of human organisation that societies have ever experienced.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

I believe one of the solutions to transforming education is the open source model. The free and open source software movement is a philosophy and a practice born from the work of 20th century hackers and programmers. It’s much more than clever code and free software. Open source communities embrace principles of collaboration, participation, freedom, and trust. To work openly means to work cooperatively, to generously share knowledge, and to create a democratized culture where a diversity of contributions is encouraged and valued.

The Open Schoolhouse – Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students

Free and open source software helped our team build affordable and robust educational technology infrastructure. We’ve saved huge sums of district taxpayer money by trading expensive proprietary programs for open source counterparts.

However, the budget is only part of the story. Over time, the open source model reshaped our students’ classroom experiences. The application of open source principles led to the development of a unique one-to-one learning program, in which we supplied thousands of middle and high school students with an unlocked laptop running free and open source software exclusively. Our efforts culminated with an internationally recognized high school student help desk program built on a foundation of collaboration, community, participation, and trust. We found that open classrooms look more like art studios and makerspaces, and nothing like factories.

There is also a deeper ethical problem: reliance on closed source proprietary software teaches students a lesson of dependence on secret technology they are powerless to examine, study, share, and improve upon. If the social mission of schools is to amplify student potential, disseminate knowledge, and prepare students to have an impact on the world, then schools have a duty to help kids be free thinkers and self-reliant architects of their futures.

The Open Schoolhouse – Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students

Open source software is frequently zero cost, but price is only half the story. It embodies an expression of liberty, and the ethical principle of sharing to drive innovation and learning. Free and open source licensing encourages us to read, modify, copy, and learn from the source code. The model shifts software control from corporations to a community where anyone is free to participate and contribute.

If we look past software programing, we discover the spirit in the open machine. Open source is a philosophy where principles of sharing one’s work, meritocracy, transparency, and collaboration are deeply valued. Programmers involved in open source projects typically adhere to these guiding principles when writing new code and applications.

The Open Schoolhouse – Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students

When we rally around a common goal and share our work with others, we create something new, something that we can be proud of sharing, something that can change and transform our world. This is the spirit of the open source community.

The Open Schoolhouse – Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students

Much of the foundational technological work today is being performed by the open source software communities that develop and maintain the components underneath the digital candy wrapper services from Google, Facebook, etc. Although many open source software projects have been co-opted by corporations, the tacit knowledge associated with open source software increasingly lives in brains that reside outside the sphere of corporate influence.

The trend towards zero marginal cost (Bettin 2016) means that proprietary digital candy wrappers become less and less relevant, as alternative non-proprietary services unencumbered by corporate interests can be offered at close to zero cost.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

Create open source communities instead of walled gardens of intellectual property rights – to create a global knowledge commons and to maximise collective intelligence.

Replacing control with ecologies of care | Autistic Collaboration

Once we appreciate the value of technologies that compensate for human weaknesses more than technologies that exploit human weaknesses, we are well underway towards the cultural transformation that W. Edwards Deming (1984b) envisioned several decades ago.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

The need to shift towards trustworthy distributed data management highlights a need for a new breed of open source collaboration tools that are not entangled with the interests of corporations or the interests of big government.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

Transparency (Fletcher 2015), including open science, open data, and open source software are are emerging as essential tools for independent oversight of cognitive blind spots:

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

To do this, you must transition into thinking of people as members of a community, moving from a transactional mind-set to one built on commitment.

The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance

Encourage the development and evolution of locally, regionally, and globally appropriate Open Source software platforms that serve as a language system for communication and collaboration at all levels of scale, in accordance with locally, regionally, and globally agreed rules and laws.

The Internet allows all scientific knowledge, including related evidence and analytical tools, as well as all explicit social agreements to be shared globally, for mutual learning. The future of “globalisation” is not one of energy intensive global busyness, i.e. trade of physical goods and resources, but one of a global knowledge commons (Ramos 2019) that is maintained in perpetuity for the benefit of all current and future human societies.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

The future of democratic governance could be one where people vote for human understandable open source legislation that is directly executable by open source software systems.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation.

The Automattic Creed – Automattic

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Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic parent and retired tech worker. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they

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