Open Source Philanthropy: Part Two

Mitch Kapor, creator of Lotus 1-2-3, and chair of the Mitch Kapor Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, Open Source Applications Foundation, and the Level Playing Field Institute is using philanthropy to create open source software.

Ever more reason to ponder the potential applicability of open source principles, practices, and economics to creating philanthropic resources and products.

2 comments:

David Geilhufe said...

Open Source principles are strangely elusive in the philanthropic world. And they shouldn't be.

Seems like two community-based, neighborhood nonprofits that compete with one another for funding will collaborate a whole lot more readily than two foundations. The folks on the ground might be better able to put aside personalities since they can directly see the benefits of cooperation and collaboration on the faces of those they serve.

The second dynamic is that philanthropic leaders are not particularly creative, dynamic, or able to adapt to the accelerating change that surrounds them in technology, ideas and society's emerging concept of social responsibility.

BUT, the tide slowly turns.

The Mellon foundation is probably the single biggest funder of open source software today, not, I think, because they understand technology (though they do), but because they understand higher education. And they had the vision to apply open source principles to their knowledge of higher education to support the creation of software that helps every institution of higher education rather than just a single one.

http://www.mellon.org/programs/highered/informationtech/informationtech.htm
http://juicy.mellon.org/RIT/MellonOSProjects/
http://www.osafoundation.org/MellonAnnouncement_Sep-26-2003.htm

The Happy said...

Community building, community organziing, volunteerism, the creation and preservation of pubic goods within an increasing authoritarian "owernship society" - I wonder if those are not the topics of which "open source" is both a subtopic and a success story. Also bears on your topic of "capital." Perhaps the greatest capital is not financial, but our ability to work together to create public goods, motivated by a sense of stewardship, joy in each other's company, and sometimes status competition to see who can give most, give best, rather than do least, get most.