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Open Source Methods Useful Way Beyond Software 193

Tom Steinberg writes "Former head of policy at the British Prime Minister's office, Geoff Mulgan, has co-authored a paper on uses of Open Source methods in arenas far beyond the normal Sourceforge universe. The paper is jointly written with Tom Steinberg, head of UK civic hacking fraternity mySociety and explores the use of open source methods to improve academic peer review, drafting of legislation and even media regulation."
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Open Source Methods Useful Way Beyond Software

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:39AM (#12302969)
    Isn't the law already open source? Sure, there are maintainers, but it's possible to submit changes and get them approved.
    • Go to your court house and ask for a copy of building codes (for wiring your house etc). Don't be suprised to find that codes (laws actually) are owned/copyrighted by a firm. So no the laws are not "open source."
      • Huh? In the U.S., building, zoning, subdivision, and other regulatory codes are written and enforced at the municipal or county level with some general rules dictated by state statutes. One wouldn't go to a courthouse to get them, but to City Hall, and there would be no copyright as they are a regulatory code. Perhaps parent is referring to a codifier (who compiles and publishes codes, ordinances, etc) who can copyright the presentation or codification, but not the laws themselves (cf. Feist Publications, I [floridalawfirm.com]
    • The problem in the UK is that there is no freely available version of consolidated legislation. You can get the acts from the parliament website, but they are just patch files written in English. There is no free version with the patches applied. And it goes back centuries, a real mess.
    • >Sure, there are maintainers, but it's possible to submit changes and get them approved.

      True, but they have a proprietary CVS repository so the community can't submit their patches using non-proprietary tools.

      It'd be nice if someone did a "shadow CVS" of government decisions, laws, etc. vs what should have been done and then critique would be very easy to document in real time with snapshots of this shadow CVS tree :-)

      In all seriousness, closed source software, patents, etc. is nothing compared to the
    • Yeah, but at this current rate of progress we'll patch as security holes and known bugs by sometime around 2370.
    • Not, apparently, in the democratic repubic of the USA. No legislator actually read the USA Patriot Act (I) before voting for it -- it came directly from the neo-con (oxymoron warning) think tanks (oxymoron warning) where it quietly evolved for nearly two decades. Not unlike many of the other Dubya rantings, like the Social Security "crisis". The neo-con (oxymoron warning) agenda doesn't make much economic sense, at least from Dubya's lips, since the context this "agenda" has been pulled from doesn't actu
    • David Brin has an extremely interesting book out called "The Transparent Society". He applies the concept of openness to all areas of life and society; arguing that accountability is absolutely necessary for freedom. The makes a whole lot of sense...the rejection of "security through obscurity", in favor of open and peer review. PGP is a good example of a secure system (well, pretty secure) that still works even if everyone knows exactly how it works. Our current democracy is also a good example of an o
    • Isn't the law already open source? Sure, there are maintainers, but it's possible to submit changes and get them approved.

      I can't speak for the US, but in New Zealand (where I'm from), certain segments of our law aren't open. It's the distribution that's the issue, because they're sometimes covered by someone else's copyright.

      Our rode code is a good example. It's credited in law as being the authoritative road rules, and to a certain extent there's a public and open process to writing and amen

  • yep.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:40AM (#12302979)
    I am thinking about open sourcing my sex life.
    • Hopefully you are straight and your partner is a beautiful super-model...By the way where can I plug in to her ;)
    • Re:yep.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ignignot ( 782335 ) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:52AM (#12303114) Journal
      You better hope no one installs any trojans through your back door...
    • You want to give people a hand?
    • fork (Score:2, Funny)

      by ajrs ( 186276 )
      the word is fork [answers.com].
    • Don't assume that open-sourcing will instantly solve all your incompatability issues.
    • There are already too many "nice plan, shame nothing ever happens" type projects on sourceforge...
    • Re:yep.. (Score:2, Funny)

      by Gillious ( 723833 )
      So long as your source don't get forked..
    • Re:yep.. (Score:4, Funny)

      by ubuntu ( 876029 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:37PM (#12304659) Journal
      Open-sourcing your sex life may or may not not be the best route for you. Let me explain some of your different licensing options, since I've already been down this road and have learned a lot of painful lessons.

      If you open-source your sex life, you won't likely increase your userbase as much as you'd think. You can expect at best 1-2% of the total users (much like "laissez-faire" Linux, hot, sexy, and openly available as it may be). Haggard old Windows (technically under a much stricter one-user "monogamous" license), on the other hand, has 90% of the mindshare. There's a lot more hot coeds interested in investing their time into a long-term legal, registered copy of Windows than Linux, if you know what I mean. Women feel comforted by the strict EULA "vows" that you take when you click "I DO" during the install. If you opt for a proprietary, single-user sex life license, you can be sure of a certain level of solid usage, but unlike Linux, there is really no thrill or excitement involved. The Windows GUI gets tired and stale very quickly, is generally considered "crippleware" and won't do a lot of the naughty things Linux does for you without paying dearly for the extra functionality, and is prone to "bloat" -- Windows seems to double in size every few years. HOWEVER -- the secret of Windows happiness for you, my friend, is that cheap and dirty copies of Windows are easily "acquired" when nobody's looking, and most people have either considered going for a quickie download or are running an illicit second copy somewhere besides their main computer right now. I have a legal copy of Win98 running, but I UPGRADED to a secret install of 2000 on the side, and it's a lot smoother running... unfortunately, no OS ever went down as frequently as my original Win98 did, except when I experimented with Amiga in college.

      The main problems with running an illicit copy of Windows are that

      a)you KNOW that a lot of other people are enjoying the same copy that you are at the same time as you, and

      b) Windows will definitely lead you to viruses, bugs of all sorts that are hard to get rid of, and in the end, ultimate disappointment and regret.

      What I'm saying is you don't have to announce you're open to actually BE open. And if you're married, you should DEFINITELY tell your wife that you fully respect her Intellectual Property rights, onerous and burdensome as they may be, and that you respect her patent monopoly despite the fact that she never seems to use it. If you mess with your wife (the legal owner), you will end up in a place worse than death -- alone and settling for the most pathetic OS of all -- Windows "ME".

  • Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:41AM (#12302989)
    The open source method is not a unique concept. It's based on the concept of free and open collaboration, such as in most science disciplines!
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lionheart1327 ( 841404 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:23PM (#12303355)
      I know I'll probably get modded down for this because of the stigma of the evil "C" word, but here we go.

      Open source, and the volunteer way in which it is done, is basically the utopian communism that the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc. were striving to get to, but fucked up.

      Real communism is not people being forced to be "equal". It is the unselfish sharing of everything, and volunteering your time and effort for the greater good.

      Now, people can't seem to share their physical goods, but on the Internet it seems that some people are willing to share virtual goods. When it doesn't really hurt you to give your neighbor a hand, it seems that people are willing to do it.

      Of course, there are those like the RIAA and the MPAA, that are completely against it, but most Slashdotters seem to be for it.

      So maybe Bill Gates is right, and Linux is communist?

      Well, if you take away the prejudice against the "C" word caused by decades of propoganda, maybe thats actually a Good Thing?
      • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Analogy Man ( 601298 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:09PM (#12303739)
        Then there is that other 'C' word...Christian.

        Talk about making oneself flamebait. Christ proposed that people be kind, good, generous, loving to each other...(Not because it was required for salvation but because it demonstrated you appreciation for the grace of God).

        So, giving your fellow man your time, energy and expertise over the internet is a Christian thing to do.

        Be an open source contributor! Be a Christian Communists.

        • Re:Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

          by xPhoenix ( 531848 )
          Then there's always 'C' for Correct. Maybe "giving your fellow man your time, energy and expertise over the internet" (or over other means) is the CORRECT thing to do. Not correct in the sense that any religious character or figurehead would like or would have liked it or promoted it, but correct in the sense that it ultimately produces the BEST results, both industrially/for society and for individuals' own happiness. I suppose this falls back on the utopian communist concept in some respects, namely, a
        • And as with Christianity, you're guaranteed to get a lot more out than you put in. In the long run anyway.

          Also, open sourcing your code is fitting with almost any religion, as well as moral codes that a great many people and societies respect.

          As I understand it, open source contributors would also meet approval from Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, for example.
      • Re:Duh (Score:2, Interesting)

        by asoko ( 657763 )
        I'd argue that the GPL is communist, while the BSD (or MIT) license is libertarian.

        GPL says "No way in hell you can ever make a profit from this" while BSD license says "Do whatever you want with it." One assures code will always be free (as in beer), other assures the people who use it will always have freedom (as in speech).

        Which one you use depends on the result you want. I'm trying not to inject my bias into this, though I think I've already failed.

        • GPL says "No way in hell you can ever make a profit from this" ... though I think I've already failed.

          Yep, many companies have made a profit from GPL programs.


          Like trademarks, and for much the same reason, copyright should be lost if a product line becomes generic.

      • I'll disagree. Open source is a free market of ideas. The good ones are kept, enhanced traded. The worthless ones are discarded. Closed source and patents represent artificial trade barriers.
      • "Open source, and the volunteer way in which it is done, is basically the utopian communism that the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc. were striving to get to, but fucked up.

        Real communism is not people being forced to be "equal". It is the unselfish sharing of everything, and volunteering your time and effort for the greater good."

        And singing and puppies, don't forget the puppies or the happy thoughts.

        Just don't mention that fundamental to any government's ability to compel people is the threat and use of
      • 'C' is also for "conciousness raising" a several decade old tradition which has led to feminst theory and practice. It's worked for naming problems like sexual harassment, marital rape, racism, sexism, ismism, and never ceases to come up with new problems. Sometimes it leads to solutions, sometimes it's more difficult - but the point is open sourcing code is a lot like sitting around having tea and chocolate and talking about your problems. It really is. Once people start working together problems/bugs
      • Actually, I would argue that OSS is about as free-market a system as any I know of (I say that as a personally *very* pro-free-market-minded person).

        Sure, you might share your code with somebody else. But you still hold the copyright to the code, correct? So long as you hold the copyright to your code, that code is still *your* property. It is your private property which you're allowing somebody else to use, voluntarily.

        OSS is no more communist than, say, a neighbor having a party on a warm summer afte
  • by tezza ( 539307 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:41AM (#12302990)
    To fork the government.
  • Academic Peer Review (Score:4, Informative)

    by gowen ( 141411 ) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:41AM (#12302993) Homepage Journal
    One problem with an Open Source approach to modifying academic papers, is that the original author has a strong interest in maintaining sole authorship : for better or worse, their future appointments pretty much depend on publication history.
    • by krysith ( 648105 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:48AM (#12303066) Journal
      Isn't part of open source keeping track of who made which changes? That is a beneficial thing, especially in cases where there is more than one author. I have read academic papers with 30+ authors, and I never knew which one did the modeling and who built the hardware. Sure, if I had investigated or asked, I could have find out easily, but having that recorded in the paper would be a bonus.

      In addition, it would also help in cases where a grad student did all the work but the professor gets most of the credit. If the change history shows that the grad student did all the work, maybe they will actually get the credit they deserve?

      • by gowen ( 141411 ) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:52AM (#12303105) Homepage Journal
        I have read academic papers with 30+ authors
        Sure, that's pretty common in some fields (Biotech, for example). But 300+ authors? 3000? How many authors would you say the Linux kernel has?
        If the change history shows that the grad student did all the work, maybe they will actually get the credit they deserve?
        Well, that does presuppose that check-ins correspond to workload. And remember, if a supervisor has the original idea and devises the techniques to answer some question, and the grad student does all the grunt work, who's to say that the grad student deserves the credit? In that scenario (not universal, but not uncommon) he's replaceable in a way the supervisor isn't.
        • You points are good, but realize that application of Open Source methods to academia don't mean that they are going to do things the same way Linus does. Science has always been fairly "Open Source", long before that particular name was coined, simply due to the need for reproducibility of experiments.

          I am sure that if new methods were introduced, that the people using those new methods would adapt to the use of those methods. If it were clear that whoever records the idea or technique is the one who is
        • Sure, that's pretty common in some fields (Biotech, for example). But 300+ authors? 3000? How many authors would you say the Linux kernel has?

          Biotech ain't got nothing on particle physics [nih.gov] (My count yielded 600 authors on this paper (or "study").)

        • How many authors would you say the Linux kernel has?

          I don't know. How many? Someone here should be able to give an answer...

  • I think the "Open Source" model can be extended to all aspects of society. But it requires a paradigm shift in the way the world works.

    If you take the cases of Linux or Wikipedia, arguably two of the most popular "open source" products, there are far more users that contributors.

    Human nature is such that we try to do the least amount of work to achieve maximum effect. Humans are essentially greedy.

    Open source model does nto work well with this inherent greediness. IF one day we humans change our intrinsi

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:51AM (#12303094)
      Yes it would could then work, and there is already a name for this system...
      For the Americans in the crowed conveniently leave out the fact that it is a form of communism when you mention it. Otherwise you will be stoned to death or moderated into oblivion as I am sure I will be
      • Meh. If there are 'commies' in America, they're more likely to read Slashdot. Slashdotters fit (as I remember) the general characteristics of communists: Privelidged, intelligent, well-meaning people with a slightly skewed and/or idealistic and/or innocent view of the way the world works.

        I personally am a bit of a Marxist, and become more of one everytime I read about Enron or WorldCom or Microsoft or George W. Bush. I apologize if that offends your sense of Americanism. I also eat French Fries.

        Point is, though, Marx would (IMHO) say that Europe is very much closer to what he thought was a logical society than Soviet Russia ever really was.... He definitely put a limitation on how much development a country needed to start down the road of socialism. (a ruined word)

        America, well, I would say he'd call America approaching the bottom of its swing into totalitarianism of the wealthy. The New Yorker had a cartoon of one businessman talking to another saying, "This is the best time for consolidation since Feudalism," a few months ago.

        The country I'd guess might make it to a supportable, non-militaristic, non-dictatorship, Socialist style state first would be India..... However, since I've always been idealistic and uneducated about an entire half of the world, I'm willing to say that I'm an idiot to expect that and know for sure that I'm avoiding educating myself on it for a reason.

        Socialists were never stupid, just ignorant. Reading the literature of the time (Wright, Sinclair, Orwell, etc) shows some of the most interesting people of a generation captured by an ideal and disillusioned by a system....

        Open Source Software leading to social systems changing is an interesting development in culture but hardly surprising considering that the cream of the privileged and intelligent in the Gen X and Y generations all were drawn to computers as youth, and OS is in some ways a more technically efficient way to run systems that everyone uses than what we use now.

        Politics is changing because of our technology, just look at MoveOn and SwiftBoat Veterans for Truth. (commentary reserved here)
        • I am also an american. I was making reference to the fact that most Americans begin to foam at the mouth at the mention of the word communism.

          I do not believe that many communists actually read slashdot. If you do not believe me look at all the "commies sux0r hardc0re" remarks one of these threads generates.

          I would also agree that Marx would now think
          that europe is closer to his ideal than Soviet Russia ever was. Soviet Russia represented simple communism and not marxism at all.

          Also the USA has most defi
        • The country I'd guess might make it to a supportable, non-militaristic, non-dictatorship, Socialist style state first would be India...

          What happened to those Scandinavian countries?
      • There are indeed great similarities between open source and communism/marxism. Both involve collective action for the benefit of all.

        The interesting thing to me is how communism-as-economic-system differs from open-source-as-software-development-process.

        Basically, it seems to me that what makes open source development work is the zero marginal cost of code copies. Basically, we have your garden variety despots running most open source projects (Hi Linus!). Why don't we run into the same problems econom
        • Well, it helps that an open source project doesn't need to feed and protect millions of people while its leaders enjoy almost godlike powers and responsibilities. That kind of makes things a bit trickier.

          "I could convert everyone on the planet to their component atoms" has a way of inflating the ego and leading to corruption that "Wow, lots of people like this software I wrote" can't match.

    • Open source model does nto work well with this inherent greediness.

      I disagree. This model works quite well in a capitalistic model. That is why the license states that you have to distribute source code with a product if you inturn distribute it. So if someone develops the Linux kernel and tries to sell it her payment to the orginal developers is the work she put into the code. There is a cost of using open source code and if it fits in your business model then great!
    • I agree that the capitalist model works well in this instance. The 20th century was, after all, seen as a fight between three different, irreconcilable politics. Nazism, Communism, and Democracy (usually associated with capitalism). Nazism was obviously a definite no. Communism, while some think it is gone, and others joke about the so-called "Creative Communists," the overarching idea of cooperation still exists. Yet we see with the innovation that the internet has inspired that Democracy, capitalism, and
      • How could there have been a fight between democracy and communism when neither exists anywhere in the world? There are no democracies, nor can I think of any state remotely approaching this ideal since ancient Athens; and even they didn't have universal democracy (slaves, women).

        As for communism, none of the so-called 'communist' states are even remotely communist. They're dictatorships whose economic model is much closer to fascism than anything else. Communism is just a buzzword they use to promote th
        • Representative democracies like that I live in (UK, although we have some weirdness with royal perrogative (I don't mean that word) which messes things up but not too much) are a reasonable first-order approximation to a true democracy. Whether or not a state is a dictatorship is pretty much irrelevant to whether or not it's communist. There were some genuine attempts at communism, before stalin took over soviet russia was by and large really trying. Of course power corrupts and most states are nowhere near
    • by futuresheep ( 531366 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:10PM (#12303256) Journal
      Open source model does nto work well with this inherent greediness. IF one day we humans change our intrinsic nature, open source model might well replace the current individualist/capitalist model.

      Open Source can work just fine with a "individualist/capitalist model". I think this is more a symptom of the industry than of human nature. Take a look at the culinary industry. There are two methods of operating:

      1) Proprietary/Closed recipies. 2) Shared/Open recipies.

      There are plenty of examples of companies and restaraunts making money using either method.

      Some, like Coca Cola and KFC, choose to guard their recipies and keep them secret. However, with some good reverse engineering, you can attempt to recreate those products.

      Some, like many non chain restaraunts, will openly share the recipies for their menu items. Their food and ingredients are not kept secret, and if you can take it home and make it better, feel free!

      In the big picture, both sides of the industry realize that at it's core, food is all made from the same base ingredients, using the same basic production processes, and that in the end, success is delivered by the perceived value of the item purchased. Sharing or not sharing what goes into that item is a decision made by the manufacturer.

    • Natural greediness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ites ( 600337 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:19PM (#12303328) Journal
      Humans are naturally selfish, yes, but this does not necessarily conflict with free software. Adam Smith pointed out that society is driven by selfishness but still creates large mutually-beneficial collaborations.

      Free software is easily misunderstood, even by those who participate. Really, it's not about altruism at all.

      When I explain free software to non-technical people I compare it to a sport. Think of a game, in which the players compete to design the most creative and useful inventions, using software as their medium. The players keep score in terms of "kudos" and the best players - the key people (almost always men) behind winning projects - have a very high status, much like stars in any field.

      Software is an excellent medium because the costs of entry and of collaboration are so low. It enables a true meritocracy in which teams of any size can join together to attack problems of any size (and share kudos, if they succeed).

      Free software is not altruistic. Every player knows that if they hit it big, they will have a valuable consultancy job, book deal, conference gigs, or other lucrative opportunity. The best players sublimate this motivation so they can focus on the "pure play" but that does not mean they don't have the motivation, ultimately. Try getting the best players to join your project and you start to see. It's very much "sports for smart people", and every player is very aware of their value.

      The Game is becoming politically sensitive because it has a side-product, namely a cornucopia of increasingly valuable software. This flood of cheap software has started to revolutionise the world and launched some major proxy wars between established players, threatened by it, and those who understand what's happening and want to profit from it. You can almost slice the IT industry into two halves: those who hate the Game, and those on the side-lines, cheering and throwing roses. The amounts of money involved are huge - despite the 'free' label - and already influencing global politics.

      Can the Game move into other areas? Yes, in two ways. First, it's always been there. Competitive intellectual effort is what has filled the libraries over the ages. Nothing new here except the scale and speed of the process, on the back of cheap global internet communications. Secondly, more and more traditional intellectual processes become software. Look at Wikipedia. The Game can be played with any process that can be held as "source code".

      Free software/open source is not a "model" that can be applied elsewhere... but it is a paradigm (I hate that word, but it's accurate here) that changes the way professionals work. Stop being an employee, become a player. For businesses, sponsoring open source projects can be a cheaper and more reliable way to get essential software than traditional projects.

      There is no conflict between free software and capitalism. Indeed, free software expresses the "liberal" ideal of free trade with minimal government intervention. People do things for self-interest but economics is not a zero-sum game. Free software is highly capitalistic, depending the individual's capital of ideas and skills.
      • I don't agree that Open Source is a form of capitalis, but then I also don't agree that capitalism and liberalism are synonims.

        To me, capitalism allows big ammounts of wealth to be controlled by a single individual or small group; and the goverment protects that centralized control in the name of private property.

        Open source (specially in it's GPL form) is designed to avoid that kind of control from a single source. Government only intervenes to avoid one player from taking away what is, essentially, a pu
        • From

          In common usage it refers to an economic system in which land and capital are privately owned and operated for profit and where investments, production, distribution, income, and prices are determined largely through the operation of a free market rather than by centralized state control (as in a command economy)

          I believe my statement that the GPL is an expression of pure unfettered capitalism is accurate, though it may irritate many.

          Personally I am an ardent admirer both of the GPL and

          • Governments do have an essential role in capitalism, as in free software, and it's the role you identify: to provide rules that enable the free exchange of goods and punish those who abuse the system and steal.

            But as I (and many others) understand capitalism, the rules are already stablished and they revolve around private property. My point is that if you change the rules and make state support public commons, it shouldn't be still called capitalism (maybe open-sourceism?).

            And I believe that oligarchy [wikipedia.org]
      • Disagree - if that were true, nobody would work on software that didn't obviously lead to reward. But people hack on open source games like bzFlag that'll never get them a consultancy gig or a book. Do you think Stallman was motivated by kudos? No.

        I don't think it's worth speculating too much about the motivations people have for working on free software. For some it's just fun, for others it's an ego trip, for others it's their job and for yet others it's a war against corporate power and the ills of soc

    • Open source model does nto work well with this inherent greediness.

      This doesn't explain why people pay for Linux when they could easily download it and burn it to CD, or why they pay for music (iTunes) that they can get just as easily for free.

      My guess is that most human beings (that means someone other than a bunch of college students) actually think paying for value is a good thing; even feel obliged to do it. And I'd suspect that the folks who go on about how humans are basically greedy or freeloader
    • "I think the "Open Source" model can be extended to all aspects of society."

      I think it can only be extended to aspects of society where changes, copying or duplication are trivial and essentially without cost. i.e. information.

    • Open source model does nto work well with this inherent greediness.

      You are ignoring the statistics. With 6,000,000,000+ people in the world and the ability to copy software millions of times all it takes is 0.01% of people to be not greedy and you can get something happening. There are many, often selfish, reasons why people create open source e.g. a loss leader, a student getting practice, a retiree looking for something to do or a big company where the marginal cost of development is small and the pub

  • What's that? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by menace3society ( 768451 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:46AM (#12303049)
    People produce better work when they collaborate instead of keeping secrets? Preposterous!
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:46AM (#12303055)
    > explores the use of open source methods to improve academic peer review, drafting of legislation and even media regulation."

    Because we all know that professors, lawyers, and, um, more lawyers, are all interested in getting ideas from outside sources.

    With the exception of math/science/engineering academicians, none of the above have any real interest in improving the peer review process.

    Delenn: "John Sheridan was a good and kind and decent man."

    Academician: "You came all this way just to say that?"
    Delenn: "You came just as far to say less."
    Academician: "But this is extraordinary. There's so much more we'd like to ask you. So much more we'd like to know."
    Delenn: "You do not wish to know anything. You wish only to speak. That which you know, you ignore because it is inconvenient. That which you do not know, you invent."

    - Babylon 5, The Deconstruction of Falling Stars [visi.com]

    • You take a single quote from a story set in a fictional universe in the far future and apply that to every single member of several very broad, complex, and populous categories? I think Slashdot just set a new world record in generalization.
      • I think his point was that jms could say what he wanted to in a much more eloquent way.

        But, hey, those words are tainted. They have dork all over them. Best to distance oneself. Isn't that right?

        --grendel drago
    • With the exception of math/science/engineering academicians, none of the above have any real interest in improving the peer review process.

      You forgot Artists - who have an active interest in receiving input form others. A well-deisnged Fine Arts program is grounded in concept development and critique.

  • Bad idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    One of the reason Open Source works so well for software development is possible to release a project when some core funtionality is deemed useful, even though other areas are broken and incomplete. Over time it can be incrementally improved and become quite good.

    This model does not work for production of things that must be "complete" on some schedule. We can't pass laws and just release a TODO file along with each law to indicate how we hope it will be changed after it is passed.

    Just because Open Sour
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...when reports on Open Source are no longer in pdf format.
  • and they want their 'synergy' back.
  • by slabbe ( 736852 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @11:52AM (#12303110) Journal
    a lot like open source. And has been so for quite some time. I publish my results, stating what I have been doing and precisely how. If I can as many other people as possible to use my results and ideas, I will gain respect in the scientific community (a lot of references). Regarding the publication process, open archives such as arxiv have been gaining in popularity for a long time, see e.g. http://arxiv.org/show_monthly_submissions [arxiv.org]
  • I didn't think collaboration would be helpful. What is this world coming to? Damn bastards think they're so smart. Next thing you know MIT students will be submitting fake papers to fake conferences. The gall.
  • heh (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    i can see it now in a few years

    press release:
    labour government heralds a new era of common sense
  • Great idea.. apply open source methods to non-software organizations, and now Microsoft will go around trying to run hospitals and public schools out of business.
  • I decided to outsource the mowing of my lawn. Now I have several geeks living in my garage using up all my bandwidth. They drink a fucking lot of Dr. Pepper too.

    I have to admit my lawn looks great, but for some reason they keep trying to mow my Xbox. I really don't understand why.
  • by Anonymous Monkey ( 795756 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:11PM (#12303260)
    This reminds me of an old car commercial I saw (I think it was BMW). An older German engineer was being interviewed and he said "we developed and patented crumple zones" then some one else said but all cars have them now. His reply was "We never enforced the patent, some things are too important not to share,"

    What inventions do slashdoters think are too important not to share?

    Also, a tangent, I think an online wikpidia like open cooking database would be a cool project.
    • What inventions do slashdoters think are too important not to share?
      Those related to health, medicine included. If you can't trust closed source software there is no way you can trust closed source food or medicine. If I gave you a clear liqiud and said "Here, drink this". Would you? I wouldn't. I would first ask what it was. If the provider refused to say what the liquid was he has something to hide, and if its worth hiding its probobly not worth ingesting.

      Also, a tangent, I think an online wikpi
    • The germans did develop crumple zones. However that was so long ago that even if they did patent them (I'm not sure), the patent would have expired long ago.

    • As an FYI, that was Mercedes, who IIRC, will always leave their safety feature patents unenforced.
  • I am making a video documentary, which will be licensed as Creative Commons. I hope that when I finish it, it will serve as an inducement to other people (leftists) to take it and improve upon it. A collaboration of people working over the internet, using OSS procedures and OSS collaboration software, could possibly improve upon it so much that it could be much better than most documentaries shown on broadcast or cable tv.

    It is possible to do that. Remember that the script and video and audio footage, alon
  • by SunPin ( 596554 ) <slashspam@@@cyberista...com> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:18PM (#12303324) Homepage
    These "open source [$random]" idiots need a clue. Scientific collaboration takes what's useful and tosses out what has proven to be useless. If your work is in order, it will be incorporated into collective knowledge...

    We've been doing that for... 500 years. Maybe as long as history itself?
  • OpenSource, FreeSoftware (I know, there are differences, ...) or whatever are just names we give to the act/task/idea of applying a well known set of ideologies into the world of software.

    OpenSource it is NOT about the invention of "collaboration", "voluntarism" or anything. All these ideas existed long before the first line of OSS code was written. So you can't "apply OpenSource" on something that is not Source Code, because it would just be "sharing" or some other name anyone might invent to the act/tas
  • *do* read this (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thisoneguy ( 684246 )
    This is really quite an eye-opening survey of the broad and already-demonstrated applicability of "open source" principles beyond the domain of software. There's something very stirring and promising about the potential of things like Ohmynews [ohmynews.com] , PledgeBank [pledgebank.com] and TheyWorkForYou [theyworkforyou.com]. This is about us and what *we* can do.
  • Two heads are better than one.
  • by SuperDuperMan ( 257229 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:33PM (#12303433)
    Open Source means open SOURCE CODE... come up with a different term for Open Ideas. Perhaps Open Ideas... Open Source when used for anything other than source code is a poor bastardization of the term.

    I'm glad when the airplane was invented the term air didn't become so popular that cars, boats, televisions all had to have the word air in them.
  • by sellin'papes ( 875203 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:41PM (#12303496) Homepage
    The principles of open source are extremely similar to those of the political system of anarchy.

    Open source principles applied to our current political system (democracy, republic) would translate to something like Participatory or Direct democracy. A system where everyone can contribute.

  • wow (Score:3, Informative)

    by mattyrobinson69 ( 751521 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:48PM (#12303569)
    jesus christ. i have to say, this is quite possibly the best day of slashdot news ever (and ive been too busy to read most of the day - its 17:47 here).

    microsoft to support linux in virtual server
    major euro politician to stand against software patents
    india to scrap software patents
    torvalds finishes new versioning system
    dvd players being able to skip those bloody adverts

    best...day...(in technology news)....ever
  • by Anonymous Coward
    socialism and democracy.
  • The two big examples of successful open-source projects that they lead off with are Linux and Wikipedia, with Wikipedia meant to be the one that shows how the model can be applied to things other than software. The Wikipedia project, however, is extremely atypical for a free-information book project. I've catalogued [theassayer.org] a lot of free books, and almost none of them use the kind of broad, collaborative process they're talking about. The only examples I've come across that are anything like that are Wikipedia and
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:17PM (#12304394)
    I think the problem is that allot of us are used to dealing with paradigms in the physical world. If you have a house, car, food, etc ... and let everybody use it - that will deprive you of its use for yourself and your beliefs and opinions of how things should be used and done. But in the world of inventions and creation - that logic is just the opposite, sharing deprives you of nothing but rather increases your value as more people seek you out for applications that have physical world value. All to often it is all to tempting to revert back to physical world paradigms when dealing with information, inventions, and ideas, and the government encourages it with artificial monopolies like copyright and patent. But on average in the big picture controlling information limits your options ... especially if you are the "little guy", small business, starting musician, or independent inventor.
  • The interesting thing about open source is that people can claim that open source is the freeloader's dream while others can claim that it promotes an unprecedented sense of community.

    In either case, open source turns on its head some deeply entrenched institutions. For example, in closed-source companies, a college degree is generally a good help to getting a job. However, companies that use open source highly value experience (especially on open source projects) and skill and there is little accepta

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!