Open-source, free culture, and the coming storm

click for large version
For those of you that don't know me well, I am writing a book about the intersections of design culture, free culture, and creative production in 21st century - a little topic. Writing, as we can all remember from term papers and essay tests, is hard work. And, in the past 2 months, for every word I written, I have erased four.

Tonight, I was reminded why I started writing the book: people are doing some remarkably cool things and, in my opinion, changing the world (insert sinister laughter here).

I am not talking about something as piddly as eradicating polio or forgiving 3rd world debt. No, I am talking about makin' FREE SOFTWARE!

Let me explain. Tonight I found two new applications that are freeware or open-source projects. One is a painting application similar to Corel Painter unfortunately called Artrage. The other is an SVG production package called Inkscape. Although they may not have all the features of Painter or Illustrator or Freehand they are creative productions that simply give to a wider audience the tools for creative production. The result is a unique cultural system (that is the real brilliant design project) that encourages others to engage in creative work of their own.

The system is all about sharing, gift-giving, reputation, and doing things because we love to do them. The interesting thing is that as the technology advances it seems the quality of the products and the resulting productions (from those products) is not that far off from the big name commercial works (think Linux as opposed to Windows as an example). The coming storm is a time when the open source design projects compete directly with or that flavors of idiosyncratic products make redundant bloated commercial wares (think the Podcasting versions of game design, for instance).

The resulting changing to society could be significant. But more on that later....

BTW, the image above is a work done in Artrage by Duncan Pond (another unfortunate name. I certainly hope his parents didn't give him the middle name of Drowninda) Click on the thumbnail to see the higher resolution image.
gregory turner-rahman