One of the characteristics that makes human species very unique is its collective intelligence. There is no other species on the planet that shares with its offsprings a knowledge base that is built over thousands of years. The predicament here is that this knowledge base is non-exhaustive, multidimensional and is expanding at a tremendous rate, yet the average lifespan of a human still being around 80 years. Of these years only 40-50 years are the most productive ones. This period is starting to be inadequate for humans to acquire, master and employ this collective intelligence to create something. Therefore, like ants, humans collaborate. They acquire specialized knowledge in various fields, come together and create.
In 1991, a computer science student named Linus Torvalds created Linux without envisaging that after almost 30 years, more than a third of the World Wide Web will run on his creation, or that his creation will be used on devices like cell phones to supercomputers.
Not just that, his act of making the source code of his OS available openly brought a paradigm shift in the software industry, which at that time was only proprietary. This made the beginning of open source popular in the modern times, well, at least in the tech industry.
The concept of Open collaboration has been there since time immemorial. It all boils down to the fact that when more brains work to solve a specific problem, the solution is refined to a near perfect level, and when that solution or design is available for others to use with no strings attached, each individual uses their innovative skills to build over that. In the process, creating things that surprises us all. Imagine if the concept of patenting and proprietary design existed at the time when someone invented the wheels. It would have taken us way longer to reach a point where we are today in terms of the technology we see around us.
Open source reduces the cost and time of development of new designs, making it possible for the end product to be cost-efficient, yet of great quality, and so a bigger percentage of the planet’s total population is able to afford a good quality yet cost efficient end product.
In the early days of this change, there was a lot of scepticism about how open source will be a blunder and will impact the revenue generation massively. There were also concerns in the software industry about how making the source code available to the public would jeopardize the security of the software and aid hackers to exploit the weak parts of the code. The turn of events were however, completely unexpected. Instead of the hackers, it was the fellow coders and programmers that turned up and pointed out the loopholes and ways to fix it, making the code base more robust and secure. Also restoring our faith in humanity. Sharing the code base of software also helps the academic community to impart better skills to budding tech-enthusiasts.
Open source is a fantastic example of how some things may not work in theory but end up being a game changer in practicality. Wikipedia being the flag bearer here.
During the course of time, the philosophy of Open Source has spread out to many other sectors, fuelling other initiatives and movements. Such as open innovation, open hardware, open content, open government and even open religion. Like these, open education is another sector which is seeming to be very useful. It removes the barriers that may inhibit individuals from acquiring various knowledge bases, such as academic admission requirements; promoting learner agency, empowerment, and global civic participation. Allowing individuals to maximise their creativity by learning and expertizing focused chunks of skill sets. For eg. Programming.
Industrial Shields, is a company that works under the umbrella of Open hardware. We use the already existing, very well designed and tested open hardware and build over it. Giving it a more specialised and focused purpose. These hardware are compatible with a long list of proprietary software, but a longer list of open source software. This enables the users to have a great industrial quality product at a very reasonable price without compromise and with a lot of flexibility.
Seeing the tendency of how open philosophy has gained traction in the last 30 years, How it has given ways to new businesses that couldn't have been imagined before surely indicates that the future for open philosophy seems very promising and definitely is needed for our civilization to advance. The future seems open. Enabling each individual to create, improve and innovate over what already exists.
“When anyone can contribute to a solution, everyone will benefit from it”