Public Domain / Open source
OPEN SOURCE (OS) IS CROWD-SOURCED Cost, flexibility, freedom, security, and accountability - that are unsurpassed by proprietary solutions. OS also has long-term viability and is always on the cutting-edge of technology. It's created and supported by a worldwide community of organizations and individuals, many of whom also live by open source values like collaboration and volunteerism.
The vast majority of OS is freely distributed. But OSS is said to be -free as in kittens- and not -free as in beer- - it requires maintenance, configuration, and ongoing support. The trade-off is flexibility and freedom. Unlike closed proprietary solutions, OSS can be altered and extended by any developer familiar with the source code. This grants organizations freedom from -vendor lock-in- and assures long-term viability. A widely adopted OS project is often supported by hundreds or thousands of capable contributors.
These same development shops are constantly reviewing the OSS code they support, as are thousands of independent developers working on the project worldwide. The result is a vast peer review process that ensures security and accountability. Security holes are found and fixed quickly. While anyone can research shops and developers based on the quality of code they write.
And more often than not, OSS shops and developers hold similar values. In all aspects of life, they are advocates for more community participation, collaboration, and volunteerism. They believe in working together to build free, high quality products that are accessible to for-profit and nonprofit organizations alike. This belief underlines the mission of the best OSS shops and developers. It pushes them to build new features and contribute these features back to the community. As a direct result, popular OS projects are always on the cutting-edge of technology.
Technologies and architectures sometimes grow stagnant, and open source projects with fresh thinking can drive sea change. Because whrn technologies are released as open source, the entire ecosystem is able to move forward together, rather than just 'near by' domain and its users.
The case for open source appropriate technology
Even a superficial review of global environmental conditions results in a rather bleak outlook for the sustainability of the world’s major ecological systems. Simultaneously, billions are mired in poverty, and even those in the developed rich countries find their economic situations uncomfortably precarious. The optimists’ position is that accelerated progress in technology will rescue global society even from global-scale problems like climate destabilization. Support for this position is legion. It is undeniable that technological development has provided great benefits to humankind in medicine and many other fields, and technology is indeed developing faster now than ever before. There are more PhDs, scientists, and engineers working now than the world has ever seen. More papers are being written and new scientific journals are proliferating at an astounding rate.1 Unfortunately, the vast majority of this research, and the knowledge created, is not focused on problems related to sustainable development and surprisingly, even much of it, that is, is effectively removed from deployment by intellectual property law (e.g. patents, copyrights, and trademarks) (Pearce and Mushtaq 2009). The results of this restricted and closed model of technological development are the widespread poverty and environmental desecration seen around the globe, which is directly responsible for a morally and ethically unacceptable level of human suffering and death.
A neutral technical assessment finds that open source software, developed mostly by unpaid volunteers, is often of superior quality to the software developed by one of the most powerful companies in the history of the world employing unquestionably extremely intelligent people (Bonaccorsi and Rossi 2003). This remarkable result stands against conventional wisdom that would argue the profit motive, and market forces
Throughout the world, there exist research institutes, community groups, and non-governmental organizations working with different technological innovations to alleviate poverty and mitigate the destruction caused by excesses of consumer culture. For the most part, they remain disconnected, often re-inventing the proverbial wheel again and again although their counterparts in another part of the world may have already designed and debugged a similar technology. Clearly, appropriate technology development could benefit greatly from the application of an open source model. OSAT could fall within the legal framework of an AT General Public License (GPL), where those plans can be used freely, modified, and republished under the same AT GPL for those in the future all over the world to benefit from
Consider the effect of open source appropriate technology taking hold creating a vibrant virtual community to share OSAT plans and experiences. OSAT venues like Appropedia are enabling designers and field workers to download plans of water pumps, wind mills, basic medicines, passive solar, and many other appropriate technologies. In this way, open source appropriate technology will become a true rival to the paradigms of the development of technology that have dominated civilization since the industrial revolution. A new revolution built on a dispersed network of innovators, inventors, and researchers working together to create a just sustainable world will be created.
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