Over the past decade, Open source software (OSS) has seen a surge in popularity. The combination of high coding standards, collaborative learning and minimal costs has attracted a new generation of users and developers, passionate about creating and sharing resources.
This newfound interest has led to crossovers in the application of open source ideas to real world projects; including everything from film making to fizzy drinks. But many of these non-software open source projects are met with skepticism by OSS purists. There’s a tendency to see this practice as a dilution of the original open source movement as well as a deviation from OSS guidelines maintained by organizations like the Open Source Initiative.
Should Open Source mean software only or should its ideas extend to all areas of life and creativity? The following list of real world open source projects should give you some great food for thought!
1. The OScar Project
The OScar Project began in 1999 with the aim of developing a car according to Open Source principles. In 2006 the project opened its doors to the general public and has since grown into a passionate community of designers and drivers out to push the boundaries of mobility.
2. Open Architecture Network
The tagline to The Open Architecture Network is “how do you improve the living standards of five billion people?” The aim of the project is to bring people together from all over the world, from all backgrounds and areas of expertise, to collaborate on innovative and sustainable designs that will improve the lives of the impoverished and marginalized. It is the ability to pass from online concept and design to real world application and practice that makes this project shine. The image below is an example of collaborative design project already underway in Tanzania. Read more about it here.
3. Open Source Sewing Burdastyle
BurdaStyle was inspired by Burda Mode which was founded by Aenne Burda in 1949. The site was created to allow for the free exchange of designs and patterns and to provide a showcase for clothes designers from amateur to professional.
4. Open Cola
OpenCola defies all the laws of business by disclosing its ‘secret’ recipe to the public. Unlike the many mainstream soft drinks giants, Open Cola welcomes its consumers to experiment with the creation of new flavours, improvements and general learning through practice – the recipe is released under a GNU General Public license. The drink was originally made as a promotional tool to explain free and open source software, but it soon became popular and 150, 000 cans later, the drink took on a life of its own.
5. Open Prosthetics Project
The Open Prosthetics Project aims to innovate in the field of prosthetics through collaborations between users, designers and funders with the goal of making their creations available for anyone to use and build upon under Open Source licensing and ethics. The overall goal is to speed up and amplify the impact of innovation on the prosthetics industry and bring about positive change.
6. A Swarm of Angels (Open Source Movie)
A Swarm of Angels is a groundbreaking UK-based project that aims to create a 1 million Pound film and give it away to over 1 million people using the Internet. Anyone can sign up to the project and vote on major decisions, including which of two scripts goes into production. Members can contribute to development and production through script input, materials creation, or be part of the distributed film crew. The project is Creative Commons-licensed. View the trailer here.
7. The open source sound project of CC mixter
CC Mixter ccMixter is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want.
8. Open Journalism – NewAssigment.net
New Assignment‘s mission is to spark innovation in “open platform” journalism, distributed reporting and what’s now called “crowdsourcing”. These are forms made possible by the Web and by the falling costs for large numbers of people to locate each other, share information, and collaborate across distance. The goal of New Assignnment is to track developments in the field of journalism, and conduct pro-am, open source reporting projects with media partners.
9. Open Clip Art
Open Clip Art is a vast archive of user contributed clip art that can be freely used. All graphics submitted to the project are placed in the Public Domain under Creative Commons license. The site contains over 7000 graphic images free to download and manipulate. This is an incredible resource for anyone interested in design or creative art work.
10. Free Beer Project
Free Beer was the first brand of beer with a “free” recipe – free as in “freedom”, taken after the term “free software”. The beer was created by students at the IT-University in Copenhagen together with Superflex, a Copenhagen-based artist collective, to illustrate how concepts of the free software movement might be applied outside the digital world.