[EI] Reading 1: Open Source Thinking

Summary on Sida Vaidhyanathan’s article

Open source is originally a software term but it has since been used as a collaborative and creative term. The concept of open source was created as a response to the proprietary model. The proprietary model was deemed as selfish, restrictive and limiting because of copyright. Under this model, big software companies had the rights to refused computer scientists assess to their source code, preventing them from customising the software to suit their own needs or improving on the software when the software did not work well. By imposing such restrictions, these companies can eliminate any competition and continue to thrive in their industry. This model also highly discourages peer-to-peer social interaction because it presents no advantage or opportunity for such interaction.

On the other hand, open source is a collaborative model that encourages peer-to-peer social interaction. It brings many talented individuals together, driven by a common goal – to constantly improve on a software so that it can be the best that it can be. This allows the software to not only be customisable, but also readily assessable to anybody. As everyone contributes his/her expertise to the project, the community will be able to benefit and reach greater heights. This is far beyond what an individual can achieve.

The following video explains the concept of open source using a simple and concise analogy. The analogy likens a project to building a house. The blueprint of the ‘house’ (project) is open source when it is shared with the world. As people start pitching in their knowledge, others can take this knowledge and apply it to their own ‘house’.

In a nutshell, for open source to be successful, it requires the collaboration and contributions of many individuals. This fosters successful creative habits where creative individuals can learn from one another to improve on themselves, creating a friendly and inclusive synergy within the community.


Summary of Randall Packer’s article

With the advancement of technology, many are turning to virtual studios where they have access to social media, digital storage capacities and more. The notion of a solitary artist is now obsolete. As the world becomes more connected through global communications, this gives artists the opportunity to collaborate – also known as open source. For example, artists from different countries and time zones can discuss their projects through Skype, Google docs, and other online real-time collaborative platforms.

The open source approach presents many benefits. It encourages collaboration, which in turns amplifies individual thoughts and imagination, allowing artists share common goals and aspirations, encouraging them to embark on bigger and bolder projects that cannot be achieved alone. An example is Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece’. This performance requires the active participation of the audience in order for the message to be revealed successfully.

While proprietary approach does have its own benefits, it often stifles creativity by being controlling about their sources. It is also primarily motivated by monetary profit. On the other hand, the open source approach challenges the status quo and aims to make the world a better place for all. It is an inclusive movement that encourages the participation of artists. With the rise of social media, many are participating in open source thinking without even realising it. This is because social media changes ‘the singular activity of a personal form of expression to a collective activity that is highly collaborative’.


BuzzFeed LA office

Image source: ArchDaily. (2018). Gallery of Buzzfeed LA Office / JIDK – 1. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/484812/buzzfeed-la-office-jidk/531f5f23c07a806cd90003c3-buzzfeed-la-office-jidk-photo [Accessed 21 Jan. 2018].

In my opinion, the open source approach has also been manifested in the physical space. The open-office concept is designed by a team in Hamburg in 1950 and has since then been adopted by big corporations such as Google and BuzzFeed. This concept aims to ease communication, facilitate collaboration, generate productivity and creativity among employees. It is no longer about working individually in an office cubicle, but about collaborating with others.

Other examples of open source can be seen in resource websites such as Shutterstock, where users upload images that they have created for others to use for a small fee. Video-sharing platforms such as YouTube is also a great resource for learning since countless of tutorials are uploaded there as well.



  • ThoughtWorks. (2018). The Culture of Open Source. [online] Available at: https://www.thoughtworks.com/insights/blog/culture-open-source [Accessed 21 Jan. 2018].
  • YouTube. (2018). What is Open Source? // your phone probably runs it! (with LEGO). [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq5wifLQR_U [Accessed 21 Jan. 2018].
  • business.com. (2018). How Open Office Plans Affect Workplace Productivity. [online] Available at: https://www.business.com/articles/dan-scalco-workplace-productivity/ [Accessed 21 Jan. 2018].

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