25 Ways Open Source is Catching On Beyond Software : Page 5

The open source movement is spreading far beyond software to space travel, cars, spying, textbooks, art -- even cupcakes.


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

Posted November 28, 2011

Cynthia Harvey

(Page 5 of 5)

Open Source Cupcakes

21. Open Source Cupcakes

The brainchild of Philadelphia-based techies Katie Regenye, Dana Vachon and Jessica Victor, Open Source Cupcakes offers tons of free recipes for—you guessed it—cupcakes.

The site explains, "Being involved in the Philadelphia tech community, I heard the open source concept tossed around daily. Sharing with others, communication, making things better. That certainly can be applied to cupcakes." In the spirit of open source, the site offers "baking support, new ideas and [a] place where cupcake lovers and bakers alike can communicate."

What makes it open source? This site was inspired by the open source software movement, and all recipes are available for free. You can also freely modify them, and you're invited to contribute your own comments and cupcake recipes as well. "It's time to open source the cupcake!"

Open Source Data Center

22. Open Compute Project

In 2009, Facebook began tackling a huge project: building a new data center from the ground up that would scale along with the social network's phenomenal growth and be as energy efficient as possible. The resulting data center in Prineville, Oregon, used 38 percent less energy than their existing facilities to do the same work, and it cost about 24 percent less as well.

Long a champion and user of open source software, Facebook decided to "open source" this new data center. In 2011, the company released the specs for the facility and invited others to make suggestions for improvement.

What makes it open source? At the Open Compute Project website, you can find specs and designs for the center's servers, racks, cabinets, and electrical and mechanical systems. The details are also available on GitHub. In order to get feedback from outsiders, Facebook has also conducted Open Computer Project summits and set up several working groups that will continue looking for ways to improve data center efficiency.

Open Source Cars

23. c,mm,n

In 2007, this group showed off the word's first open source car at the AutoRAI show in Amsterdam. Developed by three Dutch universities, c,mm,n (pronounced "common") is a community-built electric vehicle with an emphasis on sustainability.

The c,mm,n community has aims far beyond simply creating an open source car, however. The group is actively involved in crafting a strategy that will enable 1 million electric cars to be on the road in The Netherlands by 2020. They also regularly reach out to others for input with "garage" events.

Several other groups have also undertaken to produce an open source car, notably OScar and Local Motors.

What makes it open source? C,mm,n has released all of the blueprints and other documentation for their electric car online. They also invite contributions through their online forums and various events. Anyone who wishes can use c,mm,n ideas and technology to create their own sustainable vehicles, provided that they also release their hardware under an open source license.

Open Source Bartender

24. iZac the Android Bartender

The highly creative Nick Johnson built his own barbot and named it iZac in homage to Futurama. Through an Android-based interface, users can order up a drink and iZac will mix it up. It can dispense six different liquids at a time, and it also includes a Google-inspired "I'm feeling lucky" button for those who want iZac to create an original drink just for them.

The iZac has handled bartending duties on a couple of occasions at events in Sydney and was generally a hit with a crowd, whether it was making sodas or alcoholic drinks. The blog post offers details of how iZac was constructed, with plenty of pictures and resources.

What makes it open source? Johnson has released all the code for the iZac interface at GitHub, and he posted the hardware specifications at Thingverse. You can also find plenty of other information on the main blog post, or you can leave comments and read the suggestions for improvements that others have made.

Open Source Spies

25. CIA Open Source Center

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency isn't exactly known for its transparency, but it does have an "Open Source Center." There, analysts who call themselves "ninja librarians" pore over Tweets, newspapers, radio and television broadcasts and other open media to find hints about public opinion in other countries.

Like most CIA operations, the Open Source Center is somewhat secretive, but the Associated Press did recently get a tour of the primary facility in Virginia. The center analyzes up to 5 million Twitter messages a day. That work allowed them to successfully predict the uprising in Egypt, although they didn't know exactly when it would begin, said the center's director, Doug Naquin.

Naquin said the ideal candidate for a job at the OSC is a lot like the main character in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a techie who "knows how to find stuff other people don't know exists." They particularly look for people with master's degrees in library science who can speak multiple languages.

What makes it open source? In this case, "open source" mostly describes the information the group is looking at, not the information they're sharing. However, the CIA has been more open about the operations at the OSC than other methods of intelligence gathering, and U.S. federal, state and local government employees and contractors can register at the OSC site to get access to their findings.

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