In my professoinal capacity, I spend most of my time talking with public and private sector executives about how they can use open source software to save millions (potentially billions) of dollars while replacing brittle and broken proprietary software with code that actually works. And I talk about how the values of the open source community promote the very innovation that their organizations and economies so desparately strive to achieve. But I am just as excited about the creativity and self-expression that open source can inspire, especially when it helps those who would otherwise have no voice to find, develop, and then use that voice.
In July I was honored to be appointed Visiting Scholar at SILS, the School of Information and Library Science and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Information and Library Science community and the Open Source community share many common passions, especially the belief that sharing knowledge is important and good work. And increasingly I see a shared fate for both communities...
Last month I visited Beijing and Hong Kong on a trip through Asia. It seems that everybody visiting China—Beijing in particular—comes back saying "you just cannot imagine...". I stayed at the Kerry Centre Hotel near the Red Hat Beijing office, and as I walked across the street for my morning cup of coffee, I saw the CCTV building. I was litterally dumbfounded. I got my coffee, walked back to my room in disbelief, called my wife, Amy, 12 timezones away and said "you just cannot imagine..."
I am a proud user of Blender, the free open source 3d content creation suite, but not yet a proud artist. That will take time, practice, and a lot more digital paint on my brushes before all is said and done. Nevertheless, I am on my way.
CNN just reported that NASA is refusing to disclose air safety data. The topic paragraph summarizes the facts of the report:
Anxious to avoid upsetting air travelers, NASA is withholding results from an unprecedented national survey of pilots that found safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than the government previously recognized.
What does this have to do with Open Source software?
If Al Gore can win the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing the findings of the scientific community to the political forefront, perhaps Richard Stallman should be next in line for his early and tireless advocacy against Software Patents. And the sooner, the better.