I am going back one last time to a lecture by Saskia Sassen I wrote about in a previous post. A final buzz word phrase is my topic for the day: ‘Open Source Urbanism’
“Interactive technologies allow the city to talk back. One example of this is ‘Open Source Urbanism’ where people are able to share and contribute ideas to the city that can in turn be shared with others, implemented, altered, adjusted…” — saskia sassen
From all of the buzzwords circulating today, I think ‘open source’ could take the prize for the most misunderstood, if there were such an award. While everyone has probably heard of open source, I don’t think that many people actually know what it means.
So what is ‘open source’?
The term itself was conceived in 1998 at a meeting held in Mountain View at the offices of what is now called VA Linux. It was meant to give a name to a methodology used in the production and development of software that promotes the open redistribution of and access to an end product’s design and implementation details. There was also a desire to shed the misnomer of ‘free software’ that many associated with this type of software development. Most open source software products are free, but not all of them. ‘Free’ also did not describe the underlying methodology that is key to understanding open source. The activities of the original group at VA Linux later resulted in the ‘Open Source Initiative’ that clearly lays out the terms of ‘open source’ as it relates to software development.
In an open source software development project, the source code used is made ‘open’ and available for re-use, adaption and further development by others. An open approach to development has resulted in a wide range of production models, communication paths, and interactive communities. Their development process is characterized by peer production involving bartering and collaboration, with the end-product, source-material, “blueprints”, and documentation available at no cost to the public.’ (wikipedia)
Although ‘open source’ was intended for the world of software development, its methodology could be applied in many areas. One low-tech example is recipe circles that promote the sharing of cooking recipes and techniques. Another example I saw recently is called the ‘<a href=“http://evolver.fm