Live free. Live open source.

Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2007

In today’s digital, global community, many of the old rules no longer apply. One of these is the way in which we get access to and use common everyday information and media. The old way was to do things like buy a CD at a music store, check out a book on writing resumes at the public library, or pay someone $60 an hour to teach you how to play guitar.

The world has changed.

Now, we download songs through GarageBand, read online resume writing guides found through Google, and learn guitar through instructional videos on YouTube. It’s all available freely and instantly, and much of it is open source or public domain. We’re in an age of open source living. And it doesn’t have to be restricted to purely online things.

Open source living is using products and services provided in a collaborative, unrestricted way. It’s all about freedom of choice and freedom of creativity.

Some examples of open source living:

  • living in 1-month, open lease rental apartments
  • using computers with easily replaceable and customizable innards
  • having a jam session with a couple local musicians
  • choosing open-dialogue farm products over supermarket-bought ones
  • writing a book, then making it available to everyone using Creative Commons license - whether free or for profit

…and so on!

Besides promoting the free exchange of ideas, open source living is also frequently cheaper and more fun than what I called “lock-in living.” For example, say you buy a voice for a season in an open-dialogue farm. The costs vary but are usually pretty cheap, since these farms are smaller and don’t have to worry about specific crop quotas like the big farms do. Since you’ve got a voice, you can choose one or more products for them to grow, and you get a portion of everything they make for a season.

Another example is choosing open-license music over licensed music. The artists gain prestige, exposure, and input - and sometimes event gigs - and the consumers enjoy themselves. While open source doesn’t mean completely free, it usually provides greater freedom of choice.

Things that go hand-in-hand with open source living are alternative medicine and alternative energy sources. Solar power and herbal medicines in particular are very “open source” in nature, since instructions and discussions regarding them are easily found online. A Google search for renewable energy will turn up scores of sites about alternative energy sources, and a search for holistic medicine will find you plenty of natural alternatives to the drugs pushed by pharmaceutical companies. Keep in mind, though, that not all medicines are created equal, and you should be very careful about what you do to your body!

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