Getting a grasp on Open Source and wikis
February 4, 2009
So, lots has happened in the past few months. As much as I would have loved to be able to devote much more time and energy to the Wikimedia Foundation, college apps, production cycles and first semester finals got in the way of my fun.
For the meantime, Jay Walsh and I have decided that I will write an article for my school magazine (I’m a managing editor) about Open Source and wikis.
Gosh, well there’s a pretty broad topic, right?
Let’s see….I think I’ll start by talking about wikis, because that is the one I understand the least and if I hold off on the Open Source convo, I’ll be able to transition into my next topic better. But here I am already rambling. So, let’s focus. Wikis.
What is a wiki? Boy, if I had a penny for everytime someone asked me that, I might be able to buy a gumball at this point. But hey, 25 is still a large number of times to be asked. Back to wikis though…
A wiki, to the best of my understanding, is a page on the Internet that provides information about a certain topic, which can be contributed to by the general public in order to expand the quantity and quality of the information provided on the page. And, as I’m sure all of you out there know, Wikipedia is really the best example of a wiki.
So, now for this Open Source nonsense. What is that even all about, huh?
Open Source is the idea put into action that information should be free; in order to better the world, information and knowledge should be collected and shared so that everyone can contribute to the subject at hand. Basically, two minds think better than one. Or, in Wikipedia’s case, the thousand of active contributors minds think better than one.
In my opinion, the free sharing of information and knowledge with everyone seems like a completely logical thing to do. Isn’t it better to have an educated and engaged population rather than a naive and sluggish population?
I believe an Open Source share of information could engage youth to want to learn about physical science and the universe rather than go out and vandalize parking garages with their friends. I believe an Open Source share of information could take the ordinary flow of information and add detail and depth to the subject, which could not be achieved without universal collaboration rather than a team of 20 people collecting information.
When I walked into Foo Camp over the summer, I immediately became so curious about these foreign ‘free sharing of information’ concepts that I was being exposed to. Throughout my time learning at the Wikimedia Foundation and through the work I will be doing in the upcoming months with Creative Commons, I have found something that I am passionate about. I want to contribute as best I can to the advancement of the Open Source movement, because I believe in the message it brings.
The people I have met and worked with have inspired me and continue to inspire me that there are still amazing people left out there. Not everyone is selfish. Not everyone is in the game for personal gain. There are people out there who dedicate their time and their lives everyday in order for a better tomorrow. These people can be found working on Web 2.0 software.