January 20-22, 2012, Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel

The Pop Culture Guide To Open Source

Ruth Suehle


One of the key goals of opensource.com is to make a guide to the principles of open source for people who have no idea what "open source software" is. We believe that those principles, like transparency, collaboration, and rapid prototyping, can be applied to make just about any project, business, or organization better. But the first step in encouraging people to apply those principles is helping them understand them. Further, those already in open source communities are the first step to spreading openness beyond software. Because they've seen the benefits firsthand, they are the perfect ambassadors of openness.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell the open source story when you're so deeply ingrained. Where do you begin? One option--begin with the broad language of pop culture. The spectrum from J. K. Rowling's appreciation of pop culture to Paramount's attacks on online Star Trek fans through the 90s demonstrate copyright issues. Online gaming demonstrates well the importance of working together for a greater benefit--in fact, many games have quests that can be completed only with the help of others. What large open source project could have been completed alone?

Through stories like these, I'll give examples of openness through the eyes of Coraline and the leaves of Avatar's Pandora. Novices will get an introduction to the basic principles of open source, and the most advanced community members will have stories to help explain their work to others.