Free and Open Technology Overview
Since its founding in 1968, Institute for the Future (IFTF) has had a long-standing commitment to the development of free and open technological innovation in the public interest. Our work in this area dates back to IFTF co-Founder Paul Baran's invention of the foundational internet technology of packet switching and extends to more recent projects like the Future of Making Map, our reports on the Literacy of Cooperation and Technologies of Cooperation, and our Open Health Map & Toolkit.
Free and open technology is built upon the premise that by collaborating and sharing our innovations strategically with others, we can build a better future.
The best known examples of free and open technological innovation come from the world of software, beginning with the work of Richard Stallman's GNU Project and the Free Software Movement and crystallized in the widespread distribution of free and open source operating systems like Linux, OpenSolaris, and many others.
Wikipedia took free and open innovation in a new direction by using licenses created by the free software community to create an collaborative encyclopedia. Today one of the most heavily visited websites on the internet, Wikipedia has shown that through free and open collaboration, almost anything is possible.
The movement for free and open source technology is notable in particular for its grassroots nature, with millions of individual contributors spread across the world inventing, leading and collaborating on projects. At the same time, many large institutions have also invested heavily in this field. Companies like Sun Microsystems and IBM as well as governments of countries like Brazil and France have stepped behind free and open source technologies.
This international support for free and open technology is clear evidence that the movement has succeeded in cutting across linguistic, cultural, ideological and disciplinary boundaries. At the same time, countless studies have detailed the ways in which participating in free and open innovation communities and networks can bring dramatic personal benefits to the individuals who both start and participate in projects.
With the launch of the Digital Open, the Institue for the Future has resolved to step behind the growing movement, led by organizations like Creative Commons and Students for Free Culture, to push the limits of free and open innovation beyond software and into all forms of technological innovation.
Digital Open–approved Licenses
We've curated a list of links to information on free and open technology to help guide you as you plan your project. If you know of any additional resources we should add to this list, please emails us at info [at] digitalopen [dot] org.
Institute for the Future Resources:
Free and Open Innovation Resources:
Free Software Foundation
Tactical Technology Collective
ZDNet: The emerging case for open business methods
The Future of Things: Open Source Renewable Energy
Pure Energy Systems PESWiki
Readings on Wikipedia: