By Roderick Campbell and Wendy Bolm
Now, in the 21st century, our species is rapidly adapting to face exponentially more complex challenges like: accurate environmental modeling, deciphering quantum phenomena, chaotic global markets, multi-cultural cohabitation, and sweeping technology changes. Our brains are no longer able to adapt quickly enough to keep up, so we now connect them via computers in order to speed up our thoughts and outsource our vast collective memory. Humans now have functional hive minds, which can be observed on websites like Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook.
All movements, whether they be political, religious, cultural, or economic, are dependent upon organizational models that allow increasing numbers of people to meaningfully participate. Organizations are inhibited in their ability to scale by limiters like increasing bureaucratic burden and process, or inability to maintain cultural or ideological cohesion.
In addition, current software solutions, both online and off, allow groups to organize and manage participants at a once unimaginable scale, but worries about data security and limitations to communications infrastructure are often an insurmountable challenge to grassroots movements, NGOs, and political groups across the globe.
As the world speeds forward and the political and humanitarian climates shift at what seems like breakneck speeds, open source tech is racing to keep pace and provide free frameworks to the global tech community to provide solutions to many of the issues that stifle solutions to our broader global problems. It is our belief that open source initiatives are the future of nonprofit software as developers work with organizations and networks to change the world. Here are some of the groups we’re watching:
- NLnet Foundation: Working on, funding, and supporting projects like building internet infrastructure, decentralizing the web, making VPNs accessible to the average user, creating phone-to-phone communications infrastructure.
- Open Technology Fund: Funding projects that focus on communications and data security, anti-censorship tools, and products that allow groups to organize and share information securely and independently of cellular and wifi network access.
- Apache Software Foundation: The sheer number of their projects is overwhelming, but the work they’re doing specifically in building products to revolutionize machine learning and data processing is fascinating.