LinuxCon: With open-source’s great power comes great responsibility

One of the biggest Linux events of the year opened with a look at the social role of the largest open-source project in history, as well as Linux’s potential place in the history books.

One of the biggest Linux events of the year opened with a look at the social role of the largest open-source project in history, as well as Linux’s potential place in the history books.

LinuxCon North America 2016 kicked off today in Toronto with keynotes from Linux Foundation director Jim Zemlin and Ainissa Ramirez, an author and former Bell Labs researcher who works to make technology accessible to the mainstream.

+ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD: 10 sci-fi technologies we are close to having + ARM has a new weapon in race to build world's fastest computers

As open-source in general transitions from creating replacements or alternatives to proprietary solutions into pushing the boundaries of technology forward on its own, said Zemlin, the focus for Linux must become more philanthropic.

“Linux proves that you can better yourself while bettering others at the same time,” he told the crowd. “It’s the greatest shared technology asset in history.”

It’s an asset with a big role to play in the future, according to Ramirez. Throughout history, she said, the interaction between people and the technology they create has always been a two-way street – humans create technology, and technology turns around and affects civilization in return.

“We create something, and then it recreates us. And it’s always a cycle, it’s always a process,” she said.

Technology can even change human beings in direct physical and mental ways, Ramirez points out. The use of fire to cook our food gave us the caloric boost we needed to help develop the large brains that set us apart from other early hominids. The telegraph changed the way we communicate, and not just in the obvious sense - the clipped, staccato style of writing necessitated by the telegraph shortened our sentences and took us from the age of Charles Dickens to Ernest Hemingway.

“This is why we need you now,” Ramirez told the crowd. “You already have the right mindset for how to look at technology – you share it. You’re open. You’re inclusive. You know that many, many minds make things better than one mind. Since we already know that technology is going to be the thing that’s driving democracy, in terms of society, you serve as democracy’s heroes.”

Linux, in Ramirez’s view, can be a platform to allow social change. Much like Gutenberg’s printing press made possible the pamphlets and mass dissemination of information necessary for the Protestant Reformation, Linux can democratize communication further.

“I want you to think about how impactful the work you’re doing is, “ said Ramirez. “Write technology that doesn’t mirror what’s going on right now … make it aspirational, for a better world.”

At a conference where many of the sessions and much of the activity is focused on the nuts-and-bolts of open-source technology, the keynotes were an intriguingly high-minded opening. Whether it signifies a broad shift in focus of the Linux community is unclear, but it demonstrates an undeniable awareness of technology’s broader role in the modern world.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Linux

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Gold

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?