It’s one of the most basic lessons we teach our children when they’re young—the idea of sharing their toys with others. We try to instill in them the values of giving up control and playing alongside others. Of finding joy in a shared toy. We recognize the importance of this idea, and we work hard to impress it on our young kids learning about the world.
But then something happens. Somewhere along the way they grow up and turn into adults, and a different mindset takes precedence. Corporate secrets, intellectual property, and maintaining an edge of others. Where along the way did we seemingly forget those values our parents worked so hard to instill in us?
Open source is the exception to the rule
There is one model which does continue to prove the importance and value of sharing. It’s the open source way. Open source believes in the core values we were taught as children, the core values that we were shown to be the ‘better way’ to live. Here are three areas where open source demonstrates a better way.
Open source encourages sharing
This one is fundamental. If we look at the four software freedoms we can see very clearly how important the concept of sharing is. To clarify, obviously these four freedoms are not a part of all open source, but they do hold value as a reference when thinking through the concept of sharing.
The Four Freedoms
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1).
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3).
Of course sharing might be called other things, like distributing, or re-distributing, but the principle is the same basic principle we were taught as kids. Sharing is important for adults for the same reason its important to our children when we teach them the value of sharing. The concept of being unselfish and giving something of ours for the good of someone else.
Side note: One thing I love to see shared in open source is knowledge. It’s great to see knowledge shared and open source provides a fantastic way for people to do that. It’s the whole “teach a man to fish” principle. Sharing knowledge empowers others. Sharing your knowledge is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone else.
Open source encourages working together
Open source not only encourages sharing of resources and knowledge, but it inevitably leads to sharing time. And when we share time we begin working together. Open source encourages collaboration and teamwork. The importance of teams should not be overlooked. When we work together, we see an exponential increase in accomplishments. Something said inspires a different line of thought. Groups working together see greater success at a faster pace. Recently I saw an article about the strength of open source involving the ability to “try” a lot of possible solutions quickly.
When we work together in open source we accomplish more (and quite honestly, we have more fun in the process). Playing together was always a part of a kid’s childhood (even for the introvert).
Open source encourages thinking bigger
When we share with open source, we encourage people to make changes, to grow, and to improve both themselves and the project they are working on. By working with open source, and by sharing open source, the result is new ideas come to the surface. Bigger ideas. No longer are we tied to the innovation of a single person where we all work within our own silos and do things on our own, when we share our knowledge and share our resources we enable each other to build on the successes of others and build bigger, higher, and greater solutions.
When we shared our toys as kids, we were forced to realize there are other toys to play with, there is the opportunity to play together, and there is always the chance that we might discover something better.
Open source sharing encourages us to reach beyond our comfort zone and think bigger.
So the next time you’re in a situation where you are encouraging a child to share, take a minute to think about your job and the ways in which you are able to continue practicing the idea of sharing. Do you have an open source community where you can volunteer some of your time? Do you have a way you can share your knowledge or your skills? If you don’t already then I encourage you to find one. Share your toys. It’s the open source way.