As most FOSS Force readers probably already know, Ken’s articles here and on his own Blog of Helios are only a small part of what he does. He’s one of those too rare people who works to make a difference in this world and he does so by leveraging the power of Linux and free and open source software for the greater good.
As the founder of the Reglue project (originally called Helios), he’s responsible for putting refurbished computers in the hands of financially challenged students in and around the Austin, Texas area where he resides. Over the years there have been thousands of these students and many of them, given Reglue computers while in middle or high school, have gone on to not only earn undergraduate degrees, but to attend graduate school as well — often studying computer science.
Jahia was incepted in 2002 in Switzerland – the name comes from the contraction of Java (our core language) and Bahia (which means “bay” in Brazil). To support the international growth of the project, Jahia Solutions Group was later formed (in 2005) with offices throughout Europe and Jahia Inc. (the US subsidiary) was created in 2008. Jahia has now offices in Geneva, Paris, Toronto, Chicago, Washington, DC, Dusseldorf and Klagenfurt – and outsourced support centers in Australia and Nicaragua.
Using DemocracyOS represents a challenge for any institution used to make decisions in the traditional way. It is designed for governments to open themselves up to citizen engagement, but power is usually conservative. But the biggest challenge is probably to fight against the presumption that citizens are naturally apathetic and shun commitment. Our challenge is cultural, not technological.
"I often stand in front of audiences filled with people who use storage servers. I ask them if they still name their servers. Inevitably, two-thirds of the people raise their hands. Their servers have names. ... It is definitely a mindset. ... You are not yet building quality applications. All of the innovation in the world is not going to solve that from an infrastructure perspective."
I am constantly looking for ways to make my life easier whether it's keeping track of my kid's school activity schedule or not loosing my grocery list. For this, I often look for open source solutions. Why? Because most of the time the open source solution is simple and doesn't have unnecessary bells and whistles that I don't need, and even if I need those extra bells and whistles, I know that someone else out there also needs it and most likely has coded it already.
We only use free or open source, Linux-based software for our media production. I distinguish between the two because the best video editor we found on Linux is Lightworks, which is free but not open source (yet). Our theme song was written using LMMS, our 3D animations are rendered in Blender, our graphics are all done in Inkscape and GIMP, and our stopmotion is created using Entangle and then compiled with avconv.
It’s been exactly ten years since the launch of OpenStreetMap, the largest crowd-sourced mapping project on the Internet. The project was founded by Steve Coast when he was still a student.
It took a few years for the idea of OpenStreetMap to catch on, but today, it’s among the most heavily used sources for mapping data and the project is still going strong, with new and improved data added to it every day by volunteers as well as businesses that see the value in an open project like this.
To celebrate the project’s birthday, I sat down with Coast, who now works at Telenav, to talk about OpenStreetMap’s earliest days and its future. Here is a (lightly edited) transcript of the interview.