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I need some help

On February 8, I’ll be delivering a talk at TEDxEdmonton’s event Rethinking Open Source Culture. In 2003 I posted a few articles online on open source movements and learning: Open source p.I, Open Source p.II, and Why we should share learning material. I have benefitted enormously from open learning. Open online courses in particular have been among the most significant learning experiences in my life.

I’m not a programmer. But I benefit daily from open source software – my blogs are wordpress, the server that hosts my sites runs LAMP, at work I use ELGG (the Landing), for open courses we use gRSShopper, etc.

With the Society for Learning Analytics Research we recently posted a concept paper on developing an open learning analytics architecture (.pdf). My personal and professional lives are woven together with open systems and open technologies.

The theme of the TEDxEdmonton event is described as:

As the Internet came to be, we were all excited by the awesome possibilities that would be realized once this free-flowing, open network allowed musicians, artists, scientists and engineers around the world to instantly share their work. Remixing, collaboration, and new innovations would be the result. But while there have been great examples of open source projects (like Wikipedia) fuel[l]ed by the wisdom of crowds, there are many examples where open source culture has fostered nasty group dynamics and mediocre collaborations. Have we glorified open-source software, free information and collective work at the expense of individual creativity? Or is open source culture here to stay?

I’d love to hear about your experiences with open source culture. What have you gained through being open and participating in open culture (e.g. software as a programmer or user) and what have you lost through being open?


  1. George, encounter with and touching Open Source Culture (software: as a programmer and user) makes me more humane. My heart, love, and mind, all as one, becomes more open and wider for humanity and life. My heart was touched many times by the works of Open Source Friends. They “PAY IT FORWARD” (remember: the film “Pay It Forward”). They have contributed a lot to me for my works and many of my other life activities (hobbies, entertainment, recreation, etc.). Therefore, I was moved to “PAY IT FORWARD” to HUMANITY by: 1) revealing and presenting many articles of my private research results for public through my sites 2) providing people some free personal services. All of those are what I have gained through being open and participating in open culture.

    What have I lost through being open? Nothing! But, yes! I lost much of my egoism. That is just advantage and goodness again for me. Truly, I lost nothing because I have considered as proportionally and realistically as possible what and which to open for public.
    From all of those, I learn that being open to others (humanely, positively, and existentially) includes “two in one”: “being given” and “giving”. That is a human essential. Certainly both must done wisely and proportionally as we (our spiritual beings) still live in limited world: in cosmic reality.

    A Threat to Open Source Culture may be A Threat to Basic Humanity Values (Openness, Love, Giving, Help, etc.) but be Advantage For EGOISTIC Individualism-Liberalism-Capitalism.

    Thank you, George, for your sharing. You are so open and humble.

    Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink
  2. Robin Heyden wrote:

    I have one thought to share on this, George, which may well be a minority opinion. While we have all certainly benefitted from Open Source, I think it’s important to remember that “Open” doesn’t necessarily mean that the resource appeared without cost. I’ve been working on the development of some Open Source higher ed text materials and,despite the fact that the eventual products will be free and available for remixing and customization, it took many wo(man) hours to create them. Writing, editing, reviewing, illustrating, accuracy checking all takes thought, expertise, and time. Our culture equates value with money spent – I hope we don’t let our good fortune with open source materials blind us to the hard work required to create them.

    Monday, January 30, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink
  3. brainysmurf wrote:

    I echo Mario’s comments about paying it forward, a principle that I have used extensively in tandem with setting my default to ‘share’. I am humbled by the volume and quality of the resources that others share with me (particularly through my personal learning network and moocs) and I try to honour their contributions by offering my resources more openly as well (HootSuite, Diigo, blogging, Twitter, FaceBook are all recently examples for me in the past few months). Thanks for asking and best of luck in Edmonton! :)

    Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  4. Nicola Avery wrote:

    These are some thoughts from a friend who is active in various open source communities, esp maker / hardware ones
    “I’m not sure if it’s a win or a lose but I’m aggrieved at having to pay for software and at locked-down hardware. More than happy to pay (or contribute in other ways) for things that I use that are useful. But *I* decide how much it is worth. … down to choice. I can chose to service my car myself or to pay someone else if I cannot be bothered. I could create…. my own apps for my Android ‘phone, but could I for an iPhone?”

    Saturday, February 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink