What is the Role of the ‘Open Source’ Movement in Society Today?

We are in the process of transitioning from the Industrial Age of the past century into the Information Age of the 21st century. Many acknowledge this but don’t really grasp what it means. We are moving from the ‘closed’ protective systems that worked well in the Industrial Age to the new, more effective ‘open’ systems approach that is the hallmark of the Information Age. We are moving to a new way of doing things – the ‘Open Way’.


The Open Source Way is more than a development model; it defines the characteristics of a culture. The open source way thrives on broad collaboration and shared effort. From www.opensource.com/open-source-way

  • The Open Source Way is about possibility. Open source presents a new way to solve old problems. To share ideas and effort.
  • The Open Source Way multiplies: Knowledge; Effort; Inspiration; Creativity; and Innovation. The impact is exponential.
  • The Open Source Way opens doors. Open source offers a new perspective. Open, not closed. Collaboration, not isolation.


Think about it. The ‘Industrial Age’ was primarily characterized by organizations that placed a high priority on internal development of proprietary solutions and making sure their products were patented or copyright protected. Sharing ideas, data, information, knowledge, or resources were not generally accepted practices. The Industrial Age was characterized by hierarchical organizational structures, management styles that were heavily controlling, assembly line production processes, inhouse developed information systems, and many other ‘closed’ management practices.

The characteristics of the new ‘Information Age’ are quite different. Look around and what you will see is a growing emphasis by organizations on the ‘Open Way’ . Every where you look you see people advocating and working on open standards, open communities, open source, open access to data, information, and knowledge. Collaboration, sharing, open solutions, sharing, and more participative ‘hands off’ management styles.

We’re still in the midst of the transition, so many organizations are still operating under the old rules that worked well in the fading Industrial Age. Many owners, managers, and workers haven’t fully grasped or understood the changes taking place all around them. The Tea Part movement is unhappy and fighting to retain a hold on old ways. The Occupy Wall Street movement is unhappy because the old systems and ways of doing things no longer work in this new Information Age.

Bottom line – the war is over, but many organizations and people don’t recognize this. We are leaving the Industrial Age behind and have entered the new Information Age. Unfortunately, we will be going through a somewhat chaotic period over the next decade as the changes being made continue to take hold. It’s time to start acknowledging and thinking about embracing the ‘Information Age’ and the ‘Open Way’ that will dominate this 21st century.

I will continue to periodically blog on the Open Revolution that is underway. But let me end on this note. For many centuries, our society has been primarily dominated by three major types of institutions – Government, Business, and Non-Government Organizations. New technologies, the increasing pace of innovation, proliferation of overwhelming global challenges, coupled with the use of new information technologies, social media, and the ‘Open Way’ by the 99% is leading to a major change in how societies are organized and function. The 99%, are learning to use the new technologies and approaches to create and empower the missing fourth institution that will be at the table from now on – the people.

‘Open’ Government involves embracing the key management strategies of the 21st century – Collaboration, Open Solutions, & Innovation (COSI). Many state & local governments are already moving aggressively forward in this arena – see examples.

Looking for your thoughts and input on the Open Revolution that is underway in this new Information Age. Please share your ideas and thoughts.

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