Open source as a philosophy for life

In an age of ice bucket challenge awareness raising, surely our mind (and indeed Mind, the mental health charity) and our cerebral well-being needs more attention.


Washington DC based educator and FOSS evangelist Phil Shapiro thinks that open source could be a route to a more balanced mind if mental energies are attuned correctly.

Open source is as much a philosophy of living as it is a method of creating software argues Shapiro.

Writing on this month he states, “Open source practitioners spend no time worrying about what cannot be done. All of their mental energies attune to what can be done. If you love open source, you live in a constant state of wondering.

The theory here is a positive one…

… should we suggest that living in a constant state of hope has a positive spill-over effect on mental health?

Infinite hope

After all, F. Scott Fitzgerald started the first page of The Great Gatsby with a comment somewhere along the lines of: reserved judgements are a matter of infinite hope.

Shapiro is right of course (and so was Fitzgerald and Gatsby) — the glass half full approach to life where we consider the solutions and challenges rather than setbacks and challenges is the only way to live.

Stress and worry, after all, creates negative energy throughout the body.

“The human mind remains a great mystery and mental illness can befall any of us at any time. We are just beginning to understand ways of creating greater resilience in the mind. From where I sit, open source creates more hopeful and resilient minds. Talk this over with your friends, co-workers, and relatives. Ask them for their ideas and perspective on this matter. True understanding will only reach us when we pursue answers using the open source way,” writes Shapiro — you can read his full comment here.

Extra (open peaceful) thoughts…

“I am constantly amazed by what an Open Source community can achieve – consider what the PostgreSQL project has achieved with just a fraction of the resources that our commercial competitors have for example. To do this though, we spend a ridiculous amount of time heads-down in our laptops. That may contribute to our feelings of well-being and is very rewarding, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also stressful, tiring, frustrating and sometimes detrimental to our personal relationships with family and friends. But we do it because we love what we do,” said Dave Page, chief architect, EnterpriseDB.

STOP PRESS — additional comment

“When you look at open source and how it mirrors a healthy approach to life the similarities are strong.Open source starts small and “grows” through the support of a community of like-minded people – like a society. The care and nourishment of open source is driven as much or even more so by individual and collective passion than monetary or material gain. Open source can start with the germ a single individuals’ idea and can soon travel the world and engage a broader community of all types and backgrounds. An important aspect of the most successful open source is that it benefits the desires of the developers and users – and considers the needs the commercial benefits to the community sponsors. Similar to a life, thoughtful and balanced goals that meet the needs of the individual and the economic goals of the society will fuel the continued passion and improvement of the open source project,” said Bill Portelli, CEO of CollabNet.