Libraries and Open Source

In an article about how the use of Inkscape can possibly reduce the number of incarcerated people by Phil Shapiro, there is the following paragraph:

There are many excellent free software programs for audio and musical creativity. You see, to reach a more inclusive society, we need to be using and teaching a lot more free software programs. These programs can spur a culture of creativity, design, and invention that can bring about an economic rebound. You know that $17 trillion debt we’re facing? Greater creativity—widespread creativity and invention—is our best hope of reducing that debt.

He talks about how the use of the free and Open Source product Inkscape in classes can help give people who can’t afford the latest and greatest graphics software a way to create and produce that is not text based. Many people have much to contribute, but they aren’t wired to do well in a heavily text-based system. Allowing some students the freedom to create a story or essay in images (using Open Source products that they can then use on their own for no cost at home or at their local public library) would be one way to help students succeed in school. Success in school tends to depress the amount of illegal activities one does, so the basic premise is that using Open Source graphics software like Inkscape to allow students who are not textual learners to learn along with those who are more comfortable writing long essays.

All that being said, this is an excellent argument for libraries to put Open Source software – not just Inkscape, but GIMP and Open Office and any others that patrons might need to learn to use in order to make use of a hand-me-down computer that has nothing going for it but the ability to run light-weight programs like the ones listed above. If we are going to take on, as part of our mission, the teaching of technology, we need to do it in a way that is as accessible to those without resources to get the latest and greatest as it is for those who have those resources.

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