The “Law of the Land” of the United States, the Constitution, was adopted 226 years ago today, on September 17, 1787.
A fresh reading of the Constitution, reveals how well aligned it is with Open Source thinking.
The first three words—“We The People”—state the fundamental concept of self-government, by which the authority of government is rooted in the collective will of the people and it is driven by their common goals and shared purpose.
Today, this notion of self-governance is a core principle of many open source communities. It carries not only the idea that the direction of the community is defined by the collective opinion of its members but also the practice that each and every one of them can participate and become as active as to steer the direction of the wider community.
“We the People” is also a statement of empowerment that reflects the attitude at the core of the Do It Yourself (DIY) and Maker communities, of which open source is one of many manifestations. It radiates the conviction that we are all empowered and enabled to take on any challenges that we may chose, and that we all have the capacity and ingenuity to find the solutions to our own problems.
It comes, of course, also with a share of the responsibility; by which we are also accountable for the failures and successes of our communities, and that we can not delegate such responsibility only to those who currently hold active positions and play visible roles.
“We the People” includes everyone. Especially those in the long tail of collaboration; all of whom can report a bug, suggest a new feature, fix a documentation typo, help a fellow community member with a question, and promote a project across other communities. It reflects the openess by which newcomers are welcome in our communities and have a place to enjoy the benefits of the collective work as well as an opportunity to contribute if they chose to do so.
From this, it’s clear that closed and exclusionary models diminish the capacity of the human being and deprive them of the ability to take control of their destiny; turning productive and creative human beings into disempowered consumers.
“We The People”, in contrast, creates an open world were we take control of our destiny by combining our capacities and abilities to build the tools and platforms needed to address our problems. An open and productive environment where we work for a purpose that is larger than ourselves and in the process bring out the best in ourselves and the best in our fellow community companions.