What would you open source?

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If you could open source one thing, that wasn't software or technology, what would it be?

Tell us why.

Jason Hibbets
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 Opensource.com community publications.


If I could open source anything, I'd open source church and ministry software and web technology to assist the homeless, widows, orphans, financially burdened, etc.... but since that's not the topic, I'd open source construction. Imagine an Amish way of living where homes and buildings were constructed in a day by a crew of professionals giving up a few hours to build homes for those that need them. If open source is about sharing time and knowledge, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, architects could collaborate to offer sustainable homes to those less fortunate in our cities, in rural areas, and around the globe. What about cost of materials you say? Watch this:


That is a really neat idea. Thanks for sharing. I like the "Budweiser house" in the video.


The first thing I thought of was the financial industry. Could the collapse have been prevented through more openness? Would others have been able to spot what some organizations were keeping behind closed doors before it was too late?

@Jason: This is an awesome topic.

@Chris: Great idea. This got me thinking about Matt Mullenweg's musings about "<a href="http://ma.tt/2009/08/starting-a-bank/">Starting a [simple] bank</a>, which led him to discover <a href="https://banksimple.com/">BankSimple</a>. I'd keep an eye on this startup if I were you.

Clearly, it needs to be open source. It engages in warrantless wiretaps, warrantless seizures, domestic spying, international shenanigans (see WikiLeaks), torture, indefinite detention of suspected terrorists even if found innocent, spends future generations into debt slavery, spends every single dime of revenue coming in on redistribution of wealth (aka entitlements) and must borrow to pay for everything else .... I could go on and on.

Clearly a giant flood light of transparency that the open source philosophy offers would allow the people to see these egregious wrongs, and collectively take back the power that we the people have LENT to the government, since they are abusing it.

Ron Paul R[evol]ution FTW.

If the pharmaceutics would collaborate in the way FOSS people do... &lt;mind flying away&gt;...

Open source approaches would go a long way in the field of architectural design. Especially in smaller projects, where suboptimal approaches are often the result of overzealous and misinformed principals who do no partake in collective decision making at the early design stages, especially when it comes to dealing with younger staff which are often perceived as threatening due to the current tech shifts in the profession.

Sadly, you'd still run into issues regarding who gets "commit rights", but you'd go a long way into encouraging competition in such a currently inbred field.

It looks like Architecture for Humanity ( http://architectureforhumanity.org/ ) and the Open Architecture Network ( http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/ ) are getting started on opening up the field. Maybe what they learn working on charitable architecture projects can apply to bigger projects, too?

I think open sourcing health would leave people to a better understanding of nutrition and fitness. The issue is that there are all sorts of commercial interests in what we eat and what we do (just walk your local cookie or cracker aisle at the grocery). Everything claims it's healthy but if people had a better way of seeing what actually was healthy (and what wasn't) perhaps the community would provide better nutritional guidelines than even our government (which is swayed by the agriculture and food manufacturers lobby).

I really like this idea. In the US, I know that we have had nutrional labels for as long as I can remember. That's transparency. But I think what you're getting at is translation. Do everyday people really understand what those labels mean and what it means for their daily nutrition?

I know I don't.

Being transparent means that you can see through something, so I wouldn't even call it transparent if people can't/don't understand them.

If someone were to tell you what was going on through double-talk and stretched metaphors, would you say they're transparent? Likely no.

But I think even beyond nutrition, I would love for doctors and HMOs and health insurance to work more like open source. Collaborate. Share information. Work *together* to improve the system, rather than bog it down.

What if education were open sourced? Like the whole system ... not just the tech parts of a university. All that we really get out of the 10s of thousands of dollars we spend on a college education is a piece of paper. w3schools.com is a great example of free online training that prepares anyone for a career in web development. The real question is this: Is a degree necessary for succeeding in a given industry? I've had two Directors over me in my career that never went to school for their professions. And they both excelled in them. Seminaries could also be open sourced to something very much like theresurgence.com.

ok, rather than a market or segment being open source...what about a concept like "management". If "management", an entire layer of employment were open sourced might there be room for efficiency and improvements throughout all industries which require oversight? I realize it's a little abstract.

Maybe a quick illustration would help. In schools there's a level of management which administrates the school and "manages" teachers (despite the solitary role that teachers fill in the classroom). The push now is for more transparency in reporting, monitoring and evaluation. If and open source management were put in place of the "management" it's possible that there would be positive gains through a more holistic view of education and its goals. That's not to say that managers don't play a role...it's just that perhaps the knowledge of the community would be better suited (via an open source model) to improve and innovate.

Management is not specific to education though, you can find it in all economic endeavors.

It seems every company I visit I have to continually recreate business processes. It would be nice if we had open source design patterns for basic business processes.

The pool of knowledge that could be created from that would be awesome! So much time and money could be saved by humanity.

I'd open source the writing of books (and I plan a project to do so), courses and training. I'd open source music and arts, definitely pharmacy and politics (but quietely, I don't want al the dirt in my face al day)..

Yes! I've been meaning to come back here and mention education; books in particular. Long before I knew anything about open source, it had always struck me as odd how the students or even the teachers were allowed to make print copies of a book. Also I never understood how the competition among publishers worked. It's not like we, the students, ever had a say in what new math book the school would throw a ton of money at this time.

mths, you should check out Lulu.com. they are the 'open publishing' solution. You can publish your book for free. Through their Print On Demand global printing network, you only pay for purchase, not for publishing ... although they do have available services to help you along. Also, they have APIs for those that want to use their printing network and create their own publishing house. So while their software is proprietary, making that aspect NOT open source, they are opening up what has traditionally been a closed system to those that want to publish their work ... which you could consider open source? You decide. Here are the links to their publishing page and their developer/API page:


Check this out as well:

If educators used this resource, they could save their students and the Universities/Schools a ton of $$$.

The other thing concerning textbooks, is that with eBooks, professors and educators could publish their own material and update it on the fly. If students were accessing their material via downloadable eBooks, there would be far less cost to the educators and the students.

Utilizing collective funds and effort to produce - well, produce! Agricultural commitment by the masses would be a very directly rewarding environment..and could further the open source cause.

Even if the crops chosen were as simple as Spirulina, Chlorella, or other cyanobacteria, the rewards would be enormous.

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