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Ministry as Open Source: The Tools

4.5

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The open source world includes millions of people working on projects together from all around the world. The past couple weeks we talked about open source philosophy applied to the church and this week we talk about the tools that allow people from all over the world to collaborate as if they are in the same office.

These tools, like mailing list, chat, IRC, forums and more are more than just tools to use. There is a philosophy behind them that can be taken into the physical world, your community, and your church.

You might be thinking, what can these tools do that help people collaborate from around the world do for my church that's local and not huge in size? Come listen to the 'cast to find out.

Before we close out our series on Ministry as Open Source we talk about stealing. What is stealing on the Internet? Is it OK to take a website design? Going outside the law is it good to take someones design? Come join us on the podcast where we talk about this and more.

I heard you plug...

I heard you plug Google pages. I haven't checked this out yet, but this looks pretty cool... http://gears.google.com/

And...

And... a great source for free layouts is the http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/grids/ . Semantic purists would probably snub their noses, but by placing <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://yui.yahooapis.com/2.2.2/build/reset-fonts-grids/reset-fonts-grids.css"> in your <HEAD> You can quickly "reset" your css, standardize your font size and create a grid that resizes beautifully. You could also download the css file, but that's up to you. Anyway it's a great way for a css novice to build a site. Try playing with http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/grids/builder/

BSD license

The discussion from the podcast about licensing comes into play here. The provided CSS style sheet, you linked to, is licensed under the BSD license. The BSD license is the most open and free of the licenses. It basically says do what you want with it but we aren't legally liable.

Anything released under the BSD licensed can be used in anyway we can dream of. There are no limitations.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Easy to set up open source forum

If anyone is looking for an alternative open source forum software, check out Vanilla. It's super easy to install and clean interface. The initial install is pretty bare bones, you can add whatever functionality you want by using what they call Add-ons. This way you get only the functionality you need.

Ministry as Open Source, Free Culture Movement

Guys,
I think you've made an important step in the right direction with the show on Ministry and Open Source software. As a seminary student, ministry candidate and IT professional, I think that far too many Christians rely on off-the-shelf commercial software that costs way too much for what it does simply due to unawareness of free alternatives.

The number of synergies and resonances between the Christian ethos and that of the Open Source community is too great to begin to enumerate here. I'd like to challenge you to go a bit further. There are a great number of affinities and resonances between the Christian ethos and the whole Free Culture movement, championed by people like Eben Moglen, Lawrence Lessig, Yochai Benkler and others. Yet Christians are mostly completely unaware of the existence of the Free Culture movement, which tends as a result to attract a large number of people who are from cultural segments far removed from Christianity.

I see a number of opportunities here - first, Christians can benefit greatly by participating in this movement that concerns open commons for intellectual property where appropriate (it's not a communistic or socialistic thing.) Second, here is a huge mission field of bright, creative people who care deeply about matters informed by an ethic that resonates very well with Christianity (though not with fundamentalistic moralism). I think that Christians who are informed and can discourse using the terminology of the movement have a chance to both represent Christianity in a positive and credibility-gaining manner as well as being God's instruments to make contact with people who otherwise will have very little contact with Christians.

The final opportunity is for Christians simply to get involved with a movement that is an important cultural transformational impetus for the century ahead of us. To paraphrase what another Christian has said, we can't create waves, God has to do that. But we can watch for the waves God creates and try to ride them. The free culture movement (of which Open Source, libre, and free software is a part or example) is an important cultural wave that's happening now, but most Christians are unaware of it.

And Christian geeks are positioned to play an important role in engaging this cultural wave, for the benefit of the church and the wider culture.

I don't think that it will attract a lot of hits, but I'm going to start blogging on this over at http://nakedchurch.wordpress.com , which typically has been aimed at church planting, but I think this is important enough to begin bringing to the attention of Christians.

In this program you've already touched upon a small segment of this larger issue.

Have a look at:
Text and other info
http://www.freeculture.org
http://freeculture.org/manifesto/

http://www.benkler.org (see especially the Wealth of Networks book, free and downloadable).

Talks
http://www.archive.org/details/wikimania_2006_mogl...
http://odeo.com/audio/1432192/view

Thanks for having a look. I hope this will provide some fruitful ideas for future shows.
Rob in Memphis

There's a lot here

Wow, that's quite a comment. Lots of content and links.

I like the movement to openness like this with one caveat. I want to see people get paid fairly for their good work. Musicians are a great example of this. The manifesto you linked to is all about free music. We live in a society where we listen to recordings rather than artists. How are these artists going to get paid for the work we love to hear? I'm not talking over the top payment but I don't want them to be slumming either.

As long as models are in place to make sure people are taken care of I am ok with this. It's when freedom of stuff comes as a priority to taking care of people and the gifts God has given us that I have an issue.

Oh, and Gods word and message should always be free and open. The most freely spread message of all time... that's my dream.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com