In 2001, Linus Torvalds, with the help of David Diamond, wrote a delightfully irreverent book, detailing Torvalds’ accidental invention of the LINUX operating system while tinkering with Unix and exploring obscure machine languages.
A nerd from Helsinki, who preferred to spends days pouring over his obsession, Linus not only created a superior operating system, but in the process, unwittingly birthed the open source model.
What is the open source model? Well….
Wikipedia defines the open source model as:
The open source model of operation and decision making allows concurrent input of different agendas, approaches and priorities, and differs from the more closed, centralized models of development. The principles and practices are commonly applied to the development of source code for software that is made available for public collaboration, and it is usually released as open-source software.
In the chapter titled: Why Open Source Makes Sense, I have pulled a partial list of the perks Linus believes come from choosing an open source strategy:
- The open source model gives people the opportunity to live their passion.
- Imagine: Instead of a tiny cloistered development team working in secret, you have a monster on your side. Potentially millions of the brightest minds are contributing to a project, and are supported by a peer-review process that has no, er, peer.
- By not controlling the technology, you are not limiting its uses. You make it available and people make local decisions–to use it as a launching pad for their own products and services.
- Open source is the best way of leveraging outside talent.
Now, almost seven years since Linus Torvalds published his book, doesn’t this list easily describe the power of the Obama juggernaut?
Let’s break it down.
Without a doubt, Barack Obama possesses an overflowing, innate charisma. People passionately believe in his words and actions, and they want to do something with this energy. They want an opportunity to "live this passion."
Through MyBarackObama.com, Obama has given millions the chance to participate in his campaign and to make a difference on the local and national level.
As just one example, over the weekend the Obama Campaign kicked off its Vote For Change voter registration drive with over a hundred events scatter across the country.
How was this done?
The Obama campaign leveraged its million donors, many of whom give online, through the social networking capacity of MyBarackObama.com.
This website provides registered Obama supporters with a tool to locate events, such as the voter registration drive, in their own neighborhood.
Of course, if a supporter discovers there is no such event in their area, he or she can easily create their own using another tool provided by the website.
Later, after this Obama supporter has organized and participated in their voter registration event, they can go back to their MyBarackObama page and write about the experience on their blog, link to event photographs, or even check the status of the concurrent fund raiser they initiated.
As Linus Torvalds aptly sums up at the end of Why Open Source Makes Sense:
Open up anything, and the possibilities will follow. I’ve been talking about open source for as long as journalists have been asking me about it, which is basically the last five years. It used to be that you had to explain and explain what’s so great about it. And, frankly, it felt like an endless trek. It was like trudging in mud.
People get it now.