DiscoverTED Radio HourOpen Source World

Open Source World

Update: 2017-03-177


The era of open source has led to countless innovations. When does it work and when is it chaos? In this episode, TED speakers explore how open source is changing how we build, collaborate and govern. (Original Broadcast Date: October 23, 2015).

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support for Ted Radio Hour and the following message come from Wells Fargo imagine what you can do with the right business credit visit Wells Fargo works for information on how to achieve financial success for your business learn more at Wells Fargo works dot com slash credit member FDIC equal Housing lender eight It's guy here just lean over to be back next week with a brand new episode but in the meantime here's one from our archives it's called Open Source world and it's all about how open source has dramatically changed everything from our phones to our homes to our governments this is the Head Radio Hour each week groundbreaking had talked the Technology Design Design at Stanford delivered and Ted conferences around the world gift of the human had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR guy Raj so here's a story it starts in nineteen eighty nine and it's about how the Internet as we know it almost didn't exist in heavily the woods anyway couldn't have taken webpage this is a temporarily so I could show them clicking a link and they was a big deal I got a link from my online documentation but always within the same hero and say well imagine if that link could have gone anywhere in the will to continue to get and they say yeah right catch all right so they could and couldn't imagine that Tim burners Lee invented the World Wide Web which is different from the internet the idea that you heard it but what is it by nineteen eighty nine the internet had already been around for about two decades of the as a network of communication that were e mail existence but not much else and that wasn't a universal way for computers to access information on other computers so cut to Tim who is getting really tired of this problem he was a programmer at the time with CERN European physics lab the frustration that you know what actually everytime I get a piece of paper on my desk somewhere is going on down with that file yeah so there was this realization that life could be to be very cool if in fact all of these documents appear to be part of one big interconnected mesh so Tim and some colleagues discern what to work building a system that would do that would make office life easier and data sharing on the Internet possible for anyone and they called the World Wide Web but around the same time again this is the early nineties a similar system was already gaining in popularity and that system was called Gopher and go for the literally the world through higher keys and then with increasing specificity and to reach your level of interest this is some of the only audio we can find over is easy to navigate and easy to brow that improves go for was ever a thing it's a U S government training video about the Internet from the early nineties before was a campus wide information system from the University of Minnesota Walker's we burrow through the scope or size in the early nineties go fer was actually taking off faster faster than the World Wide Web if you look to the traffic on the internet until the University of Minnesota announced just in some cases if you're running with the client that maybe just a very small fee the university wanted to charge people to use its system to navigate the Internet and by charging money the university had signaled that Gopher would be proprietary completely closed system and this was fundamentally different from Tim's idea for the World Wide Web the crucial thing about actually see your pals so for the thing to work anybody anywhere who ran a computer to have some information which should be available to other people should make up one of these yourself for each document that is a massive off the cough that also offer other things UConn say you must use my particular type of computer you can say you must use my particular browser you can say and you must pay needlepoint scissors or one tenth that a candidate excellent the which is why the moment the University of Minnesota announced it would charge money for Gopher at that point we go for traffic into the truck to wow people came to me is that what is the story with a web cam we are going to happen to second to do this they wanted to tell as the web was coming into wider use what assurances did they have that M would do the same thing with the web as the University of Minnesota did with Gopher so a few weeks later Tim convinced his bosses at CERN to draft an official announcement was signed in April thirtieth nineteen ninety three and a crucial part reads sermon really pushes all intellectual property rights to this code for anyone to use we will not charge for this it will be royalty free you could have decided that you are going to just be proprietary this is going to make you an incredible fortune and that was that and you decided not to do that are you making that assumption they're making the assumption that if either turned around and said the pants on this and a seal ada then you're making the assumption that then it would take enough to be the huge thing that is now yeah that's the thought that was the wrong assumption it's not so lots of people doing really cool things on into how if it hadn't been opened when I worked it would take off the the idea the day we have a phrase for this idea the idea that creating things freely and in the open sometimes leads to results you never thought possible and we call it Open Source has to be open if it hadn't been opened it would be a Bull car and the moment you saw the will of God and people look at it Michelle looks that could if we can do that better and we would all these independent systems and those programs would work together would be no follow link from one of the other so basically the web would never think it would have caught the critical mass the show today had speakers put the idea of open source to work in the world of technology design robotics Camp Democracy and make the case for why open source world is a Better World the the way you can see all of Tim burners Lee stocks on the beginnings of the worldwide web that count and case when I hear this term open source and thinking about what commercially was just describing like the nineties and the weather but this goes way back great well so this is one of the things that often happens with any pattern almost never a completely new effective some old small pattern now writ large and fast all this is Clay shaky he studies how we interact online and the idea behind Open Source it didn't actually start in the tech world that dates back to the seventeenth century in England the early history of the printing press you start getting magazines and you start getting people really thinking of print as a way that a group can communicate with each other all the way picks up the rest of the story from the pet stage this is the cover of philosophical transactions for scientific journal ever published in English in the middle of the sixteen hundred was created by a group of people have been calling themselves The invisible College a group of natural philosophers who only later would call themselves signed and they wanted to improve the way natural philosophers argued with each and they needed to do two things for the new openness they needed to create a norm which said when you do an experiment you have to publish not just your claims but how you did the experiment if you don't tell us how you did it we want trust but the other thing they needed was speed had to quickly synchronize what other natural philosophers knew otherwise you couldn't get the right kind of argument go the printing press was clearly the right medium for this but the book was the wrong tool it was too slow and so they invented the scientific journal as a way of synchronize in the argument across the community of Natural Sciences the mood this was a huge shift because nothing's worked before in the sixteen hundred if you want to be say a cow contest which is an early chemist you could just pick up a book and figure out how you have to find an actual Alchemist and convince him to take you on as his Apprentice and you basically learn only what that Alchemist already knew they were really secretly people were not sharing information results and data so we all can this work were not only not sharing data like maybe they forgot they were very explicitly not sharing data as a cultural Mormon so why these guys stop working like this they decided to stop because they weren't making much progress they thought they would make more progress by talking to each other and as the cost of printing and the press fell suddenly there was this other model where you could say you know we could share things with people dozens or hundreds of miles away and all of a sudden everybody would know the same thing at the same time and so they switched the cultural norms to say we're all in this together and we will all together make more progress than if we just hid in our results wow so I mean they basically you know invented the open source yeah they were one of the first groups to say we have this new medium anybody can join and there is no center the changing what we're doing because of the Which brings us back to the web and how open source moved from natural philosophy to the world of technology to remember that in the early nineties members Lee was inventing the World Wide Web using open source model and at that time he was an outlier in the tech world most major advances and tackle weren't coming from some big collaborative process without a central authority they were coming from the top down in a big reason why is because programming and programming is complicated here's more from place to talk programming is a three way relationship between a program source code and the computers meant to run on computers of such famously inflexible interpreters of instructions that is extraordinarily difficult to write out a set of instructions at the computer knows how to execute and that's one person's right once you get more than one person writing it's very easy for any two programmers to override each other's work if they're working on the same file or to send incompatible instructions that simply causes the computer to choke and this problem grows larger the more programmers are involved to a first approximation the problem of managing a large software project is the problem of keeping this social chaos at bay for decades there has been taken on a cool solution to this problem which is to use something called a version control system and version control system does what it says on the ten provides a can on a cold copy of the software on a server somewhere the only programmers who can change our people have specifically been given permission to access it and there are only allowed to access the subsection of it that they have permission to change people draw diagrams version control systems to look like org charts and you don't have to squint very hard to see the political ramifications of a system like this this is futile is one owner many workers that's fine for the commercial software industry it really is Microsoft's Office Adobe's Photoshop the corporation owns the software programmers come and go but there was one programmer who decided that this wasn't the way to work Rowe who that programmer was and is impacted by new me and the rest of the world in a moment and Guy rise and are listening to the Ted Radio Hour from NPR o Hey Everyone Just a quick thanks to two of our sponsors who helped make this podcast possible first two nd last in the day nearly anything is possible if we can dream it seems can build it so how do you bring everyone together to realize their shared vision with that last scene makers of software for teams Jered confluence big bucket and fellow give your team everything you need to organize discuss and complete shared work of Leslie and works to help the team's large and small sand to new heights to create what's next is it at last in that calm glassy and team up the banks also to bracket mortgage by Quicken loans when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust who has your best interests in mind with racket mortgage will get the transparent on line process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the banks give the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash ideas just got an equal Housing lender licensed in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty it said Ted Radio Hour from NPR and Guy rise and I'm sure today ideas about open source and just before the break we were hearing from clay turkey about the early days of the open source movement and one programmer in particular how his name is Linus tar balls and at age twenty two finest decided to create truly open source operating system which he called Linux open source software the core promise of the Open Source life is that everybody should have access to all the source code all the time but of course this creates the very threat of chaos you have to forestall in order to get anything work so most open source projects have held their noses and adopted the fuel management system I'm not going to do with his point of view on this is very clear when you adopt will also adopt the management philosophy embedded in that tool and he wasn't going to adopt anything that didn't work the way the Linux community where this is a tremendously complicated process this is a tremendously complicated program or folds ran this not with automated tools but out of his e mail most people would literally mail changes and eight agreed on and he would merge them by the The lioness was the first person to consciously use the entire world is his potential talent pool because by that point this is the early nineteen nineties pretty much anyone who had the technical skills needed to contribute to an operating system was also online yet so put this the context of how big of a deal was this So what is really extraordinary about clinics you know people think of it as a kind of geek operating system for some desktops and laptops people don't realize is it's the background operating system of every Kindle and nook in existence it's the background operating system of every Android phone existence and almost the entirety of what we call the cloud links has been the thing that enabled those subsequent tools and services to build and that happened because he basically said hey this is what I'm doing and why check it out here's everything I've done nothing secret it's the nothing's a secret part because at every moment and there are you see this pattern over and over again when WiFi router manufacturer said We're operating system to run this thing to write their own and own it nobody can copy and they would have to release the source code but Linux was just sitting it was free so they adopted and routers become a tool that people can write new things on top off when the people making the Kindle said you know we could write a brand new operating system to run e books and it won't work well to the third version week clinics is just sitting there and it's free and every moment it does just enough of what people have wanted it to do that was worth it to grab it and extended rather than writing something from scratch when when something is open source is the result always better oh my god I mean we know we know many cases where the results are almost never better as the famous example of open source novels the disastrous wiki op ed that the L A Times tried but then there are also treated us where you have to say this product is better in one way but worse another way so anyone who's used an Android phone iPhone is looking at a phone that has been developed on more open source and more closed source models Apple famously obsessive the secretive famously obsessive about the design of the icons in the uniform of the behavior of the phone the pleasure of that phone is quite extraordinary am doing is just a little clunky year it's more inconsistent but Number One Android phones are much cheaper which means that it is Android and not the iPhone that's bringing the smartphone revolution to the masses it is Android is responsible for a billion people having access to some sort of smart phone right now so if your choice is no smartphone at all or an Android then the open source world has really your life considerably better so the key thing I think I understand is where open source works it tends to spread not because it's always perfect but because it's never so bad that you wouldn't get advantage from picking it up again this is why Linux got picked up so many things not that was ever perfect for e books or the cloud or Android phones or any the rest of it because it was cheap enough and good enough that gave people a boost if they adopted the clay Sharkey writes and teaches about the Internet and Society you can watch all of his talks that come the So as you've been hearing from Tim burners Lee and Klay Turkey the open source movement came from the tech world and it's still largely a tech based concept but what if you could take the principles of open source and push them out beyond technology one really appeals to me unload the feed us a few of open sores he's allowing for answers to appear in places and you could have never imagined that his PM and SHINee she said democracy activist from Argentina things the attention of open source the beauty of working in no way that you run into untapped potential that time and Pia wants to tap that potential in our democracies to bring the open source revolution to government because the whole system she says is due for upgrades here's P A on the Ted stage look at some of the characteristics of the system the soul if you make daily decisions in name of the many and the many get to vote once every couple of years on the second phase the costs of participating in the system are incredibly high you that have to have a fair bit of money and influence you have to devote your entire life to politics you have to become a party member and slowly start working up the ranks until maybe one day you'll get to sit at the table where decisions being made and last but not least the language of the system it's incredibly cryptic is Diane for lawyers by lawyers and no one else can understand so it's a system where we can chill soul Authority's but we are completely left out on how those authorities reached the decisions are political system remains the same for the bus two hundred years and expects us to be contented with being seen play a passive recipients of a monologue the soul of years ago Pia and sober activist friends came up with an idea to solve this problem the problem that democracy is really hard to participate in and I got this idea while the right train and when Osiris I remember in the subway the Tube and everyone's looking at their phones and playing Candy crush or angry Birds or something like that piano friends wondered what if instead of playing iPhone games when we have a free moment what if we use those moments to contribute to our democracy and the answer that question by inventing an app called it democracy less so what we did was start with one idea asking citizens to participate in voting and having someone inside Congress voting according to what citizens decided on the Senate but from what we wanted to do it that was to push the boundaries of what was perceived as possible and doable right now you've got a paid ad this but cakes by how works like I would just pull up on my iPhone and I would scroll through and the Alaska wilderness protection are two crafty and like look at all the different issues being debated Detroit Water affordability bill the way this is an actual bill that's been debated on Pia zap in the session for today I'd like to fold fight myself because I am very informed about all the complexities of this issue there's a space for reading expected the deal that's connected on that it's been put forward caps or utility payment at two point five percent the space to debate the right is an urgent need of water poured thousands have already been shut off it's time to have water should be paid for it to general taxation and made available to all the new vote yes yes no large ones up steam at the end of that process will have a decision being made so in theory you could stay engaged with issues on your way to work you could weigh in on the construction of a local park while waiting for coffee you could talk about a proposed tax increase while your grocery store ideally peel wants elected officials to vote the way their constituents on the app so she reached out to some politicians in when Cyrus where she lived with said Look here you have that phone that you can use to build a two way conversation with the US constituencies and yes we failed we failed big time we were sent to play outside like little kids amongst other things were called naive and I must be honest I think in hindsight we wear because the talent is that we faced are not technological or cultural so it only became of it all via study if we wanted to would forward with this idea we need to do it ourselves so we took quite a leap of faith and in August last year we funded our own political party but the letterhead or the next hot tea in the seat of the size and taking an even bigger leap of faith we run for his actions on October last year with the safety and even won a seat in Congress are candidates representatives were always going to vote according to its citizens decided on democracy us was a very very bold move for a two month hunt part in the siege of one of highest but a good attention we got twenty two thousand votes that's one point two percent of the votes and we came in second for the local options so even if that wasn't enough to win the sitting Congress it was enough for us to become part of the conversation now of course democracy O S is not a perfect idea if you don't have a critical mass of people using the AB you basically hand over power to the small group that doesn't use it and then the other problems at every little vote becomes like a referendum which in some ways makes democracy less functional and then there's the issue of secrecy like an article of faith in most democracies is the secret ballot the right to go into a closed booth and secretly make your decision hand and walk out and wonder if this sort of paradoxical way by being so open you actually create a slightly less free space that you know the less likely it is that we will say or do we really want yet it's look it's an extremely valid point I think it's worth it or hating on prototyping every possible zz of scenario on and trying out different arrangements their son Cory and philosopher and he rode the cable cold that transparent society of what he says is that we are so in love with transparency and the g of everything being out in the open that we forgot how to trust because you need to trust you need to have something undiscovered tribe is everything so that what's there to trust but I must say that in our experience also love the anonymity of a certain space is even more for juice for the month of of trotting and hate speech that hides behind those of us are some of those fake names I think it's finding a way of striking a balance do you see open source democracy as fundamentally changing the nature of democracy or or or just improving I think fundamentally changing and the return is because of the existence of the Internet I'm not saying going to happen overnight obviously but in fact I think the internet Hass is comparable to the back of the printing press had and those changes happen when certain barriers put in place already lowered and what the internet deed for us was lowered a very or extremely quickly for us that was the axis to formation of the axis to be able to express ourselves in a regular basis the PM and SHINee is the co founder of the party and one of the developers behind a democracy less that you can see her full time had come on the show today open Source how sharing ideas is changing the way we live so how often do you walk into a building that not a fancy building some ordinary normal building housing the walk in and slow down really just look at all the things around you that's what Alice department as all the time he's a designer what I'm really interested in is the background stuff the stuff people take forgot it so I kind of I find myself walking into a hotel room and look at the plug sockets and think that's interesting why the plug sockets hit different than someone else how did that come about the chart I can't get a king Kyi hotels don't have a place like it's next to the bed alarm clocks alarm clocks and how many times have you unplug the alarm clock to plug your iPhone play in their right brain and the reason why that is because we've always done is we've separated designed from the process of making which in turn is separated from the process of peace ultimately you've got to put power into the hands of persons can ease the ouster
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