TED Conversations

Sonaar Luthra

CEO / Co-Founder Water Canary Inc., Water Canary


This conversation is closed.

If you could open-source one piece of technology, what would you choose and why?

*This Live Conversation will take place on January 18, 2012 at 3PM EST / 12PM PST

Perhaps you'd choose a feature on your favorite video game system, perhaps you'd choose a life-saving medicine, a means of transportation, a fabrication method or a communications protocol... This is an invitation to think big about what would happen if you could take things that already exist and open them up to the world.


Closing Statement from Sonaar Luthra

Thank you everyone for sharing your ideas - this was an excellent conversation.

What I find most striking as I look through the comments is how many scenarios we came up with where open sourcing existing ideas, technologies and systems could promote both efficiency and a better quality of life/social welfare, instead of requiring any compromise between them.

The benefits of open source scientific research can both eliminate waste in bringing more resources to bear on solving problems and developing cures to diseases, while simultaneously making the benefits of those solutions more accessible for everyone. Open agriculture won't just lead to better, sustainable ways to grow food, but systems that allow more people to get out of poverty. And opening up educational resources - like the "dyslexie" font that Kristine O'Connor-delgado mentioned - can both improve the way we teach and learn as well as dramatically increase how many people receive an education.

I'm particularly excited to see where the projects we discussed go from here - please keep us all posted. Thank you for participating!

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  • Jan 18 2012: Library catalogues! I'm a librarian, and I find our vendor library catalogue a complete embarrassment. I actually tell people to look first on Amazon or Google Books, then just search our catalogue for the title once they've found a book they want. I wish we could open up these products to make them easier to search, and even add social media capabilities.
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      Jan 18 2012: When I worked at a small bookstore (now closed - sadness), I frequently went online to Amazon and Google to figure out what book a customer was looking for in order to grab the correct title or ISBN to see if we had it i nthe store.

      The kind of database cooperative you're talking about is pretty trivial, to the point of not really needing to be "open sourced" - it's just common knowledge in the computing world. What libraries NEED is to all get together into one interconnected system. (I think Google Books is interested in this kind of cooperation, you should see about talking your library into joining that project and linking your internal catalogue to them.)
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      Jan 18 2012: Good idea. The way I find books is that I have to type the keywords on Google Books, then use the title to search again on library's website.

      If we can combine them in one system, it's more convenient.

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