Open medicine

 

A story on Open Medicine (as in Open Source) from BBC:

Britain’s Sir John Sulston says that profits are taking precedence over the needs of patients, particularly in the developing world. ….

Sir John shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for medicine for his work on the genetics controlling cell division.

He is well known for his commitment to public medicine and his opposition to the privatisation of scientific information.

Eight years ago he led the fight to keep the data being derived from the Human Genome Project open and free to any scientist who wanted to use it.

If there is any field where free access to and use of information is obviously of value, medicine is it.

And if there is one question that is important in health care, it is this: Do we want a medical system that is primarily aimed at profit, or service? Of course, it is not necessarily one or the other, but the way it functions globally today, it is far too often narrowly in the service of profit, at the expense of people.

It is also good to keep in mind that what has the most substantial positive effect on health for groups and individuals is the quite simple things: Clean water. Healthy food. Enough sleep to feel rested. Basic exercise. Psychological well-being. And basic medicines and surgery for the most common diseases and problems.

And that too shows how skewed the current medical field is today, with an enormous amount of resources spent on research and treatment of illness that benefit only a few percent among the richest of the world’s population, while large number of people globally suffer from illnesses can easily be prevented and treated with simple means – if only resources were directed to it. And in some cases, if there was a free access to and use of current proprietary information.

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Open Source and Creative Commons

 

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I have used open source applications for some years now, and prefer them not only because they are free and often of very good quality, but also for how they are created and the philosophy behind them. My most recent switch is from InDesign to Scribus for layout type work.

Other applications I find especially helpful: Firefox browser, VLC Media Player, Inkscape (vector design) and sometimes Gimp (image editing), WordPress (including for this blog) and other content management systems, FileZilla for ftp (file transfer), and also Celestia (3D space simulation). I have also started to explore Blender which is 3D animation software.

I used Open Office for a while, but have now switched to Star Office which is part of the Google Pack. (See below.)

And some that are free and good quality, although not necessarily Open Source: Google (gmail, calendar, reader, documents, photos), Google Pack (Picasa, Google Earth, Star Office, SketchUp), Skype (online calling) and Stellarium (planetarium).

And then there is of course Creative Commons for music, art, text, video and more, including fonts. Here is a list of forty high quality fonts, many using a Creative Commons license.

See also these lists of Open Source applications from Open Source Living and WikiPedia, and a selection of Open Source applications for Windows and Mac.