A Dialog On Sustainability

July 30th, 2007 | Green, Open Source

The Green (Sustainability) Movement

A Decrepit BarnBeing green is the notion of living in harmony with the Earth and to maintain a sustainable global environment for the future. Lately, it’s become vogue to be green. Maybe it was Gore‘s little movie; or maybe it’s just the price of gas. Whatever the reason, green culture is growing by leaps and bounds.

Sustainable Planet + Sustainable Health

People who tend to adopt a green lifestyle also tend to adopt other related mentalities; one of the most significant being healthy living. There is a growing market place for this demographic – often called “LOHAS” and currently worth over $200 billion a year. The LOHAS demographic embraces the power of the open market. These consumers will choose a product, sometimes paying more for it, because they feel it is the right thing to do to maintain a healthy life and a sustainable relationship with the planet.

The Next Step: Intellectual Sustainability

So now we’re taking care of our bodies and we’re taking care of our world. We’ve already mentioned how important knowledge is – why shouldn’t we learn to take care of that too? Welcome to the conversation: Open Source. From the wikipedia entry:

Open source is a set of principles and practices that promote access to the design and production of goods and knowledge.

The open source community believes knowledge should be free. It is the notion that knowledge belongs to all of us collectively – and that keeping knowledge a secret only serves to stifle innovation. Thus here is the tie in:

Open Source Enables Intellectual Sustainability

While open source software continues to make strides towards gaining public attention by producing products that matter, most folks don’t know or understand much of the philosophy behind the movement. However, I expect that the same consumers that buy 7th Generation toilet paper today – because it is the right thing to do – will all run all open source products tomorrow, when they understand the values behind the open source community. I believe it all ties together.

The Wrap Up

In closing, lets step back just for a moment to consider what “sustainable” means. Here is entry number 1 for “sustain” from The American Heritage Dictionary :

1. To keep in existence; maintain.

The current LOHAS culture shows us that, for many people, it isn’t a lack of motivation that prevents us from doing the “right thing”; it’s only a lack of knowledge and understanding that holds us back. Before we can make choices in our lives that move us towards habits of sustainability, we must first learn how to separate the good choices from the bad. Knowledge is power.

I’ve taken the long way around to say it, and perhaps my message came across a little convoluted. In a nutshell, I believe that the same “do the right thing” mentality that drives the LOHAS community is the same “do the right thing” mentality that drives the open source community. As the barriers for using open source continue to fade away, it’s time to start teaching people why open source concepts benefits our society on an intellectual level.

Being the trendy type creatures us humans are (re: the green trend), I figure this building momentum for open software adoption will, some day soon, suddenly gain massive, explosive momentum. I’m looking forward to it.

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