This is the inaugural post of a bi-monthly column by Berlin filmmaker Sam Muirhead documenting his attempt to live a completely open source life for one year starting August 1, 2012. Follow his dispatches from the frontline of open source life experimentation here [and via his blog, YearOfOpenSource.net].
The phrase 'Open Source', to many people, means 'software you don't have to pay for' - but really it's so much more than that. It's a way of thinking and working focused on transparency and collaborating with others. It's about sharing ideas, plans, and developments for the benefit of the commons. And it's definitely not just software.
There are already open source brickmakers, breathalyzers, and underwater robot drones – all with their schematics freely available for use and modification. There are even 3D-printer-printing-3D printers creating a positive feedback loop of innovation and home production.
Within the hacker and maker scene, open source is discussed as a glorious and inevitable global revolution -but outside of this sphere, in schools, offices, malls, farms and film sets, it's a foreign concept.
I've been following open source closely over the last few years, but as a filmmaker, I never felt like I had skills to contribute to the movement's development.
So I've started a somewhat insane plan to spread the word about open source, to get others thinking and talking about these ideas of collaboration, transparency and modification – to show how far open source has come and how far it could go. This will be my Year of Open Source.
For one year I am trying to go as open source as possible, in all aspects of my life - the shoes I wear, the phone I use, even how I get around. I'm not buying any proprietary or traditionally copyrighted products unless all other options are exhausted. I'm looking for and switching to more open, transparent products which are replicable by others, trying to highlight the benefits of treating others as collaborators rather than competitors. I'll be investigating how the open source philosophy might apply to different areas of life, where it fits well, and where it might not work. Is anybody working on an open source microwave? What would open insurance be like?
I'm documenting everything in videos and writing on Shareable and my website; not just my successes but also my ridiculous fumbles and failures as I come to grips with open source.
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