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The Guardian: Second sight: Open source is a model for education, and social services

Mar 30, 2001, 16:00 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Pat Kane)

"It is a bracingly cool wind that rushes through the streets of Helsinki in mid-March. And not only does it chill you to the bone, it blows through your mind too."

"Imagine a society where the computer hacker isn't a figure of fear or derision, but something of a national hero (Linus Torvalds). Imagine a country where the leading thinkers and policy-makers are comfortable with the idea of "open source" - not just as software, but as a model for education, social services, even democracy itself."

"As a technoculture, Finland is much more than the might of Nokia and its latest stockmarket valuations. The higher values of the net - participation, sharing of resources, love of knowledge - seem deeply hard-wired into this culture. The latest evidence is a new book by philosopher Pekka Himanen, endorsed by Torvalds, called The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age."

"As I observed the fuss generated by its launch in Helsinki last week - TV shows, newspaper editorials, high-level seminars - I was stunned by the general willingness to embrace the ideas. One Microsoft executive recently described the rise of open source as an "un-American" activity. Listening to Himanen lead vibrant public discussions on the extension of hacker values into the rest of society, what he calls "social hackerism", the man from Seattle probably got it right."

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