The Power of Open Source: How It’s Changing Our Lives
The rise of open source software and the success of Wikipedia have shown us the power of open source. In the following years, open source is expected to have a much greater impact on our lives. In this article, we will explore some of the common areas of our lives that could be changed by open source in the future.
Open Source: A Brief Overview
The concept of open source has been around for a long time. It originated with the Free Software Foundation, who aimed to promote the idea of freely sharing computer software. The concept of open source software gained a lot of momentum with the release of Linux in the early 1990s.
Over the years, the concept of open source has spread beyond software to other areas of our lives. Today, there are open source alternatives for just about every software product you can think of, from desktop utilities to office software to financial software.
What Is Open Source?
Before we dive deeper into the impact of open source, it’s important to understand what it is. At its core, open source means that the source code for a product is freely available. Anyone can access the code, modify it, and distribute it as they see fit, as long as they comply with the license.
The benefits of open source are numerous. It allows for greater collaboration, as people can work together to improve the product. It also promotes transparency and accountability, as anyone can examine the source code and see how a product works.
Areas of Our Lives That Could Be Impacted by Open Source
1. Education: Homeschooling and Online Learning
Education is an area of our lives that could be transformed by open source. Currently, knowledge and the teaching of that knowledge is in the hands of a few. Homeschooling, for example, is a growing movement that allows parents to regain control of their child’s education.
In addition, online learning is becoming more popular. There are already online schools for programmers, accountants, and businesspeople, which allow the real professionals to decide the curriculum and teach the classes.
2. Government: Open Source Alternatives for Government Services
Our governments are currently controlled by a relatively small number of people, who control many aspects of our lives. But imagine open source alternatives for government services, perhaps one at a time, that are created and grow in acceptance.
Email is just one example of how a government function can be co-opted. The postal system is less necessary than before, and few people use it to write letters. The traditional method of getting bills in the mail may soon be a thing of the past. Open source could help those in need instead of government welfare, and there could be open source medical help instead of the government’s public health system.
3. Corporations: Open Sourcing Knowledge and Manufacturing
The power of corporations is their ability to control knowledge, and the manufacturing and distribution of products and services. If their knowledge becomes free through open source alternatives, such as corporate media vs. blogs, then corporations are no longer needed. Manufacturing could also become decentralized if patents on the product became open-source.
4. Entertainment: Open Collaboration and Free Distribution
The music, movie, television, book and magazine industries are currently closed source, with production and distribution of these entertainment sources controlled by a relative few. Only a small number of people release albums or movies or books, although there are many other talented people out there.
Open source alternatives could be created, where people collaborate on music and release it to the public via the Internet. It’s already happening on the Internet with the book and magazine industries. People can distribute free e-books, write blogs, or collaborate on cookbooks and how-to manuals. There’s no reason such collaboration and free distribution couldn’t happen with other entertainment, even if the production is a bit more difficult or expensive.
5. Money: An Open Source Alternative
What is money? It’s a closed-source system that says that in exchange for giving me your product or service, I’ll give you a voucher that you can use elsewhere to get more products or services (or however you want to use your voucher).
An open-source alternative could be created, and as long as people trust the system, it doesn’t have to be controlled by governments and could be used worldwide.
6. Internet: Open Source Alternatives to Online Services
Today, most online products or services are closed source, including Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. However, this will likely change as people start developing open-source alternatives to these products and services. There are already a few out there, from open-source email and search to the wiki alternatives of online dictionaries and internet directories.
The open-source concept has changed our lives already, but over the next ten years, more examples may emerge. The effects could change just about every aspect of our lives. Open source has the power to transform the way we learn, how government services are provided, how corporations manufacture goods, and how we create and distribute entertainment. An open-source alternative could also be created for money and various online services. The possibilities are endless, and only time will tell what Open Source has in store for us.