The open source community is growing larger and stronger every day. In fact, it already is strong enough to leave the bounds of IT society and wander into the scary world of... well, just the real world.
In real open source, you have the right to control your own destiny.
Where it all began. Software and before software.
Yeah, software. You know, geeks and nerds (whom computer people almost ubiquitously are) have always been so easy to ignite with ideas...
But, before that, once upon a time there was a man named George B. Selden. This guy was interesting, because he filed a patent to 2-cycle gasoline engine, and through some manipulations (I'm almost certain that a lot of money were involved) managed to extort money from a lot of people (they even called themselves an Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers). Then Henry Ford showed up, sued Selden for eight years, lost, appealed and finally won. And that is the point where magic happens. Mister Ford then co-founded an association, association that instituted a cross-licensing agreement between automobile manufacturers. What tt ment is that companies continued to develop own tecnologies and to file patents, but they shared them openly, without any money (aand lawsuits) involved. And that is one of the early pre-computer era examples of open source.
Now, to software stuff. It all started with a RFC (Request For Comments) format, used by the developers of the ARPANET back in the '60s. It was an invitation to a dialogue and collaboration - to produce better, faster and simpler telecommunication protocols. By the way, abbreviation RFC is used to this day by an organization known as IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), basically - guys, who rule over anything that uses electricity.
One of the coolest examples of open source code projects is a widely known and used browser, namely, Firefox. It all started quite a while ago with another browser and another company - Netscape. I can still remember my father using Netscape Navigator back in the middle of '90s. Long story short, once Netscape released software code of their browser to the open public it got refined and the Mozilla Foundation was born. By the way, Mozilla still stays true to their principles - I mean, you still can get "burned" by checking out sources of Firefox from Mercurial right here. It gives to you the ability to tweak and patch Firefox according to your needs, desires and whatever sick ideas you have in your head. So go on. Try it. I'll be right here. Going nowhere. Stayiing riiight heeeree.
Another great example is a well-known free OS - Linux. What started as a simple personal project quickly grew into something big. Introducing his project to open source community Torvalds achieved a huge success - many predicted quick death to Linux, but thanks to an unseen before development pace it not only survived, but also became widely-used and loved by techies all over the world. To this day it is a living and growing organism, with changes and patches introduced to the master branch of the kernel every couple of days. You can check it out here
Strangely enough, open source found its uses even in cryptography (who knew, right?). It's proven to be a great practice to open the mechanism behind the cryptogrpahy system to the society. Why you may ask? Because you get a lot of free and pretty enthusiastic people to try and obliterate it. And even if you thought out a cryptosystem so good that you couldn't've broken it yourself - it doesn't mean that nobody else can't. You probably hadn't thought about every single possibility - and people often have pretty crazy and unique ideas. Only if your system was good enough to stand trial by the community - only then can it even be considered worthy of usage. Exactly this thing happened with a public-key encryption systems - they are reliable, because they are "community-proof".
Since the beggining of this "techie" era we developed a lot of cool stuff, and so, we needed a tool and a network to make sharing these great things easier. And so things like git and places like github were born. Don't get me wrong, I don't say that version control systems were made with a sole purpose of making open source convenient. But give a man a tool and in some time he will most probably feel the urge to share his ways of doing things and stuff he made with others. And so new kind of social media emerged - creative networks, so to speak. The sheer power they posses still remains to be uncovered.
The premise of the first initiative is pretty obvious: let's share internet access! So, probably most of you guys had run into a problem of absent wi-fi connection. A good example is the airport wi-fi system: always a lot of password-protected networks, but those that are open still redirect you at some sort of billing system trying to milk as much money from you as possible. OW proposes an easy and elegant way to deal with this problem: use their firmware for your router device and make a free network available for the poor internet-absence tormented souls. Or, even easier, if your router support guest-networking - enable it! You still remain in full control of your system, you can even limit the bandwidth of the guest network - but the possibility will be there. And that is what counts in my book.
The second one is even more interesting. Open Interconnect proposes a common and open set of rules (so called protocols in technobabble) for common objects to establish an Internet of Things. It aims mostly at hardware manufacturers, but the idea is quite promising. Imagine your fork, your custom-made door-lock, your smart pen, your Apple TV (might not happen tho, Apple are pretty mean capitalistic scumbags) and your Android phone interoperate flawlessly. Wouldn't it be great?
Actually "free software" and "open source" are not the same, but, lets assume that they are for now.
Uh oh, Richard will probably have me killed for this.
So yeah, thank all of these great initiatives:
...and sorry for the mess. To be continued...
So, what do are your thoughts about openness?