Computer nerds know about Open Source.
Copyright experts know about Open Source.
Hackers know about Open Source.
But the majority of people in the world have no idea. In fact, the prevalent idea seems to be that Open Source means ‘software you can download for free’.
Open Source is much, much more than that. Open Source is a philosophy, legal framework and working method which encourages sharing, openness and editability. Rather than copyright, where the owner permits only certain uses by certain people for certain time periods in exchange for a license fee, open source is a form of ‘copyleft.’
At its core is the GNU General Public License, with which the holder permits any use or modification of their product by anyone, at any time, with the only provision that any modified versions of the product are also released under the same license. It permits, encourages, even requires sharing. It means the licensed product and all of its derivatives are, and will always be, open for use and modification.
Starting August 2012, I plan to ‘live’ Open Source for one year.
The plan is to use myself as a subject in an experiment to canvas the range of open source ideas and products, search out and discuss ways around traditional use of copyright, and see how the idea of open source can affect different areas of everyday life.
In every aspect of my life, from the clothes I wear to the film equipment and appliances I use, I will be looking for and switching to Open Source alternatives, in hardware, software and services. I will be documenting my projects, challenges and interviews in regular writing and videos on a website, gathering opinions and suggestions from experts in the field and from my readers.
I’m starting this project for the following reasons.
1. to tell the world about Open Source, to explain the idea, its use, its history and its potential.
2. to contribute to Open Source projects myself, despite not being a hacker or developer.
3. to be involved in making and learning about how products and tools are made.
4. to present a portrait of Berlin’s Open Source, DIY, political and self-organised scene.
5. to test-drive the philosophy of OS, to see how far the idea will stretch.
-I’ll be actively avoiding companies and industries which rely on a very closed-source model (eg food from copyrighted Monsanto seed strains).
-I’ll be looking at how Open Source affects education, and using open, collaborative learning methods to learn how to code, how to solder, and how to speak Turkish.
-In some aspects of my life, (eg. air travel) no Open Source option will be apparent. In this case I will research and try to outline why not – what barriers there may be in that industry/service to a viable Open Source option, and what possibilities there may be for the future.
I then have a few choices:
1. develop my own DIY project and release the ‘source code’ for download (plans, instructions, recipes, 3D printing files…) In the case of air travel, building a microlight and flying to Poland is of course a rather labour-, time- and money-intensive solution…
2. find the option which best fits in with Open Source ideals – the ‘Shariest’ – in this case it would probably be using the ride-sharing website http://www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de to get a lift.
3. Determine whether air travel is really necessary – do I need to physically go there or can I achieve my goals online, through Skype and other online conferencing tools?
The website will not only be a place to read my articles and watch my videos, but as a place where people can suggest ideas, provide links to interesting projects and developments, and discuss their own experiences with Open Source.
If you would like to be kept updated on the progress of the project, please subscribe to this website.
Or if you can offer your help in any way, or have suggestions either for specific projects or the year in general, please email me!