An Open-world can open our minds.

History of openness

Since the dawn of civilization the power of humanity lies upon sharing knowledge amongst other people. We reuse, improve and build upon thoughts and ideas that other people have. However since knowledge is power, many groups of people guard their secrets as if they were made of gold. The Chinese hid the secret of silk manufacturing from the western world for centuries, to have a complete monopoly over the trade of such a highly sought item.

Nowadays patents, copyright and corporate secrecy help companies protect their ideas; but in many cases it stagnates development of improvements.

That's where the open-source model comes into play, where collaboration is encouraged and people can openly distribute it to others; that is you can license something such that others are able to reuse your source code -- that is the thing that makes your thing work whether it be computer code or something else.

Once I talked to a person who was very skeptical about the security of open-source software, he thought that it was insecure because it allows anyone to see its vulnerabilities. I convinced him it was the other way around; imagine a complicated clockwork, if a cog got stuck with something, an engineer would have to open the machine and inspect it right? What if the clockwork were installed inside a glass container and there were 100 people simultaneously looking for that thing that blocks the cog? Having the source code readily available accelerates the speed to detect and fix vulnerabilities.

Beyond software

So the philosophy around open source is people are free to reuse and improve on things and share those improvements to all. But it does not apply solely to software. Hardware can be open-sourced like Arduino, Open-RISC; but lets see far beyond that Science benefits greatly from openness. For example although it is true that research centers benefit greatly from patents as they allow them to fund further research; being secretive about new findings can slow the development of improved products. The whole idea of Science is to organize and increase humanity's knowledge, so limiting such knowledge goes against its very principles. There has been several projects that follow an open source philosophy:

These are a few examples of the vast array of things that are or could be open-sourced; some are widely used and readily available.The advent of technology such as 3D printers, and ever-more-cheap embeddable electronics could potentially power a new era where people rely less on factories and more on locally produced goods; thats where open-source has a vital role in making the blueprints available for everyone to use.

Power to the people

So how can people reap the benefit of such collectiveness?

That has a fairly complex answer, but we can think of it as two-part: If someone invents a new thing then that person can benefit by having collaborators, that is people willing to cooperate and help in, fostering competition and creativity; the other side of the coin would be to consumers, they could actively participate in the improvement of the products they consume, also the competition could slash prices down.

What can I do ?

You may be asking yourself, how can I collaborate in this movement? Well, the answer is don't be afraid to share; use a creative commons license or a similar open-source license and let the world both see your creative works. For example this post has full CC 4.0 License so you may use it in any way, even commercially. I encourage people to translate this post and spread this information to other people.It does not matter if you are an artist, a writer, a chemist, a computer programmer or a great cook; you can share you talents to the world.

Conclusions

So our future looks ever more globalized, but in a way that we work as a whole to make headway for a better tomorrow. The Internet has brought us knowledge at our finger tips and with that the power to change the way we live. Perhaps with more people opening their minds in a way so other people benefit from the shared knowledge will shape a new era of openness.