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Half of the World’s Languages Are Dying. Should We Save Them?

There are currently around 7,000 languages being used today, with one language dying every two weeks. UNESCO says that half of the world's languages may vanish in a century's time. And, in my home country of India, 220 languages have died in the last 50 years and 197 languages are endangered. Open science is advancing scientific research by enabling individuals and organizations to collaborate and exchange knowledge that improves each other’s work. One area that could use this kind of help is native languages around the world...

Is Single-Payer the Right Payer?

As is customary for every administration in recent history, the Trump administration chose to impale itself on the national spear known as health care in America. The consequences so far are precisely as I expected, but one intriguing phenomenon is surprisingly beginning to emerge. People are starting to talk about single-payer. People who are not avowed socialists, people who benefit handsomely from the health care status quo seem to feel a need to address this four hundred pound gorilla, sitting patiently in a corner of our health care situation room. Why?

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How to Use Libraries.io Data from Millions of Open Source Projects

What if we applied the techniques Google applied to index the internet back in 1998 to the world of open source software? That's exactly the thought Andrew Nesbitt had in 2014 which lead to the creation of Libraries.io, an open source project for indexing other open source projects. This month Libraries.io released metadata on over 25 million open source projects. You can download it right now from Zenodo, but what can you do with it? To understand what is contained within this dataset, I'll take a quick look at how it's collected. Everything in Libraries.io begins with package managers. We index project metadata from 33 package managers, filling in gaps from their source repositories where we can. We parse project manifests—a gemfile, package.json, or similar—that includes code from other projects and stores the links between them...

A Free, Open Resource to Solve Our Third World Problems

Corruption, poverty, war, hunger, healthcare, education, safety. These are only a few of the problems faced by people in developing countries. Many of these problems are caused by exclusion, fear, intimidation, broken infrastructure, and lack of money, resources, access to information, and tools. These are hard problems to solve but, as Theodore Roosevelt said: "Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty." At the core of open source are communities. Communities of like-minded individuals, working together, openly and freely sharing ideas and solutions for the benefit of others...

How Linux and Makerspaces Can Strengthen Our Social Fabric

In recent years, we've seen the rise of makerspaces, a new social invention where people with shared interests, especially in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math), gather to work on projects and share ideas. I was intrigued when I learned about a makerspace in my community, because I had never heard of such a concept before. I've since learned that makerspaces offer so much more than just a place to learn and build. A well-run makerspace also knits together a community and its social fabric—and, most importantly, invites in people who might otherwise be marginalized...

Kangaroos, Insurance Companies, and the Rising Cost of Healthcare

Complaining about health care prices is nothing new. The medical component of CPI has been higher than the overall CPI for decades. As far back as 1989 Gerry Anderson and colleagues showed "It's the Prices, Stupid" that explained why our national spending was so high compared to other countries. More recently, Elizabeth Rosenthal detailed those prices in an series of reports in The New York Times. She recently followed those up with her incisive book An American Sickness. Dr. Rosenthal also illustrated some of the clever techniques used to wring the most money out of our pockets, such as the upcoding industry and tacking facility fees onto visits. As the saying goes, if you're sitting at a poker table and you can't figure out who the sucker is, it's you.

When the Hacker Ethic Meets Old Ideas About Brand

Open organizations apply principles from open source software development more broadly. Existing organizations find the open approach appealing because it promises gains in productivity and efficiency—but openness may have farther-reaching consequences than we anticipate or intend. One influential set of open principles comes from Steven Levy's book about the early history of the computing revolution, Hackers. Levy lays out what he calls "the Hacker Ethic," and it begins with "the Hands-On Imperative"...

A Left-Handed Software User's Plea

Left-handed people face many challenges in a right-hand dominated world. For the 10% of us who live under their oppression, it can be maddening. In the early 20th century, my left-handed grandfather was forced to write with his right hand in school, making his handwriting completely illegible. What would great lefties like George H.W. Bush, Bart Simpson, Lt. Cmdr. Data, Barack Obama, or Bill Gates think? At least we have advanced a little... but not enough...

CoderDojo merges with the Raspberry Pi Foundation

In late May, CoderDojo Foundation, which runs a volunteer-led network of coding clubs for children around the world, announced that it was merging with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. This is a significant development that has tremendous potential to impact education, the maker movement, and the growth of coding around the world. By working together, Raspberry Pi and CoderDojo will create the world's largest effort to involve young people in computing. "This merger presents a huge amount of opportunity to learn from one another, share opportunities, and became a more robust and sustainable movement that is supporting safe spaces for children of all ages to get creative with technology," says CoderDojo executive director Giustina Mizzoni...

What Does it Mean to Have an Open Mindset?

Successful companies are those that grow and expand. But bigger companies often need more managers. Excessive layers of management can instill cumbersome bureaucracy in a company, and bureaucracy can become a significant problem for companies when it can causes wasteful resource allocation, decreases productivity, and decelerates innovation. We can observe that open thinking can challenge or overcome potential problems of bureaucracy. Even if your company isn't a software company, it's still possible to adopt the mindset prevalent in free and open source software communities and instill openness within your company's culture...