How do you explain the open source way?

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Open thread

This open thread is an opportunity for you to tell us how you explain what the open source way is, but without mentioning software or technology.

Many of us in the technology industry have heard the analogy of buying a car with the hold welded shut. Doesn't make sense, right?

When you meet someone new to the open source way, what analogies do you use?

Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and community publications.


The same way as I did several days ago towards my own wife. She asked me: 'how can you even explain the open source way, when I don't even know what it is?'

She is a teacher... I only need to point out the simple fact of 'sharing' in education, as that is the same as she does: you exchange ideas and ways to solve problems.

To counter act the "piracy" message that so many people are familiar with I usually describe Open Source software as publicly licensed.

It immediately conveys the idea that it belongs to all of us. It aligns the ideas with a public park, public works, public restroom, or anything else for the people, by the people.

Thanks for sharing Gerard and Karlie!

What else? There have to more stories out there, don't be shy...

When I have to explain what the L operating system, is and with it FLOSS, Copyleft , Hacker, Free Culture and so on.. I usually take up in the field of expertise/passion of my conversational counter part. There is always something you can find.

If it's Art, Science, Medicine, Flower Selling or whatever other field, I tend to find that right analogy to make them thinking how an horizontal point of view, in a sense that we are all like a big organism that must cooperate and collaborate transparently with each other, is more natural than the Big Vertical Society where only the powerful get to decide and make things for us.

This "Cathedral and the Bazaar" (yes pun intended) of society and openness as a Golden Age returning step by step makes them interested most of the time.

From there I move toward the within of more real life example after they usually *ask* how can it be possible. Here is where I get more specific in their waters.

Of course, philosophical/social speeches are not appropriated all of the time, sometimes I just get straight to practical examples and the importance of transparency.

knowledge has no owner, only means to reveal itself.

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