Of Open-source, the Web and Hybrid cars

What do Open-source, the Web and Hybrid cars have in common?

They are cool.

Young and not so young, students, professors, geeks, retirees, movie-stars, are using, talking, reading, writing about Open-source software, the Web, Hybrid cars among other topics. They are participating and relating to day-to-day aspects, events of impact to their lives, to their families, to their neighbors, to their surroundings, to the environment.

Open-source stood against the country-club and gated community approach to software development; against an exclusionary way to develop function and value earlier thought available to selected few.

Open-source started with the premise that software is priceless and that all should benefit from it; like water, forests, rivers, oceans, fisheries, fauna, flora, atmosphere, etc. These are primordial resources, they are priceless, they must be managed and preserved in such a way that we can truthfully say we left them better than we found them. Same with software source code; you can use it and you can enhance it as long as such enhancements are known and available to all to see, to adopt, to improve, to distribute, to preserve for use by future developers.

The Web fostered also an idea of equal participation to not only consume but to produce information, privilege earlier franchised to selected few. The Web was to be MSN and AOL available only via paid membership. The Internet and later the Web, thanks Sir Tim Berners-Lee, changed that and as with Open-source it created a culture, a much more universal and open model, a way to look at primary resources in this case applied to data, information, and knowledge.

The use and evolution of Hybrid automobiles, alternate sources of energy in general, seem also to be largely influenced by concerned individuals, by concerned groups and communities. The technology has existed for decades with little if no leadership by governments and industry. The success of Hybrid cars and the ongoing effort to go beyond manufacturers designs, go beyond the 'I have a Hybrid car' statement, to enhance the efficiency of these vehicles by adapting better batteries and plug-in to the grid, use of solar energy, modified driving habits, etc, resulting in twice the efficiency of manufacturer's design.

It was not Toyota, Honda, Ford, GM et al that made available
plug-ins for hybrids. It was consumers that demanded it and relatively small companies offered better batteries and adapters for connection to the grid and to solar panels resulting in 17-to-29 percent more fuel efficiency. These are not industry or government initiatives; these are concerned individuals, asking, trying, experimenting, using, measuring, enhancing. Does it sound like Open-source; It does. Also, it helps when movie-stars and politicians get involved. It is cool.

Have a look at the links below for selected references re subject.

Open-source generally implies adoption of an 'open culture', model, for software development only. It could very well apply to other domains. Have a look at this article in the Economist postulating use of Open-source culture/model to Health Care.
CAN goodwill, aggregated over the internet, produce good medicine?
The current approach to drug discovery works up to a point, but it is far from perfect. It is costly to develop medicines and get regulatory approval. The patent system can foreclose new uses or enhancements by outside researchers. And there has to be a consumer willing (or able) to pay for the resulting drugs, in order to justify the cost of drug development.

Pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to develop treatments for diseases that particularly afflict the poor, for example, since the people who need such treatments most may not be able to afford them.

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