People define success differently and have different interests, so different projects will excite different people. Here are some of our favorite FLO projects:
Linux is a FLO operating system that can easily run on personal computers to provide a user experience similar to that of Microsoft Windows and Apple’s OSX. Linux has “been ported to more computer hardware platforms than any other operating system. It is a leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as mainframe computers and supercomputers: more than 90% of today’s 500 fastest supercomputers run some variant of Linux, including the 10 fastest. Linux also runs on embedded systems (devices where the operating system is typically built into the firmware and highly tailored to the system) such as mobile phones, tablet computers, network routers, televisions and video game consoles; the Android system in wide use on mobile devices is built on the Linux kernel.”
OpenCourseWare is “a free and open digital publication of high quality college and university‐level educational materials. These materials are organized as courses, and often include course planning materials and evaluation tools as well as thematic content.” Hundreds of universities around the world, including prestigious ones such as MIT and Harvard, are contributing to OCW and many of them have come together to form a consortium that envisions “a world in which the desire to learn is fully met by the opportunity to do so anywhere in the world—where everyone, everywhere is able to access affordable, educationally and culturally appropriate opportunities to gain whatever knowledge or training they desire.”
LibreOffice is a FLO office productivity suite similar to Microsoft Office. It offers a word processor, presentations, spreadsheets, graphics editor and more. In recent years, the project has been forked a number of times so there are two primary versions now—each of which has been downloaded millions of times: Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice.
OpenCongress is a FLO software and data project that is designed to be the website Congress “should have built” for itself. The project includes many components, including “scraping” of congressional records and publishing them online in FLO formats so they can be shared with others. It also contextualizes this information by matching it with relevant news coverage and blog posts and providing social networking and political participation tools so its users can turn information into action.
Arduino is a popular FLO “single-board microcontroller… designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible.” This simple device costs around $40 and makes it much more cost efficient to control simple mechanical processes such as opening and closing actuators, turning systems on and off, etc. In under 6 years of life, the Arduino has become the defacto micro-controller of crafters, tinkerers and makers of all types. Arduino on Wikipedia.
Open Source Ecology is a project to create FLO versions of the modern industrial tools people need to “build a sustainable civilization with modern comforts.” The project uses FLO principles to design, develop and deploy tractors, engines, sawmills and over 50 other machines that people will be able to improve upon and build in their own communities.
Wikipedia is popularly known as the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The story of its success is widely used to explain a phenomenon called the “wisdom of crowds” in which a group of normal people can, in aggregate, make better decisions than individual experts. With over a million articles in English and hundreds of thousands of articles in dozens of other languages, it is the planet’s most extensive knowledge resource. People are less aware that Wikipedia is built on a FLO software project called MediaWiki, which is the world’s most popular wiki software. Wiki means “easy” in Hawaiian and has become the term people use to describe collaboratively produced websites that are “easy to edit.”
Open Data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. The goals of the open data movement are similar to those of other “Open” movements such as open source, open content, and open access. The philosophy behind open data has been long established (for example in the Mertonian tradition of science), but the term “open data” itself is recent, gaining popularity with the rise of the Internet and World Wide Web and, especially, with the launch of open-data government initiatives such as Data.gov.”
WordPress is the world’s most popular FLO blogging software. There are over 50 million sites hosted on WordPress.com and hundreds of millions more that are self-hosted. With over 10,000 plug-ins that extend its functionality, WordPress has become much more than a blogging platform and can easily be turned into a social network, online store, relationship management system, directory, scheduling system and much more.
RepRap is a project to develop FLO 3D printers that can print their own parts. It has gone through over a half dozen iterations since the project’s first prototype was released in 2006 and its technology has been adopted by many consumer-oriented desktop 3D printers including MakerBot’s popular Thing-O-Matic. 3D printers use a nozzle to drop very small amounts of substrate on the surface of a three dimensional object. This process enables 3D printers to produce a wide variety of objects, from computer processors to fasteners.