One of the cool parts of my job is that I get to learn about some really cool, complex stuff that is completely outside of my realm of expertise or reality. The second coolest part is that I get to work with a lot of really smart people who take the time to explain it to me. 🙂 (They are *mostly* very patient of my questions and ignorance.) The reason I am invited to this party is because I have a knack for translating complicated stuff and making it easy for people to understand. One concept that I am learning about right now is the open platform. Here is a more ‘formal’ explanation from Wikipedia:
In computing, an open platform describes a software system which is based on open standards, such as published and fully documented external application programming interfaces (API) that allow using the software to function in other ways than the original programmer intended, without requiring modification of the source code. Using these interfaces, a third party could integrate with the platform to add functionality. The opposite is a closed platform.
Now, being a thinker (much to my detriment at times, especially when I OVERthink), I started thinking about this concept of open in terms of real life. Some people are too open; translated, we call this over sharing, TMI (too much information), PIA (pain in the ass), etc. (Not sure what this looks like? Find a hypochondriac on Facebook.) Some people are too closed; translated, we call this shut down; small-minded; or someone in need of a stiff drink.
But what if we applied the concept of an open platform to our own lives and way of thinking? We’re all born with a certain temperament, aptitude and skill set. Putting the nature vs. nurture debate aside, what if we could open our minds to different ways of thinking, problem solving, and basically our whole approach to life? We’re already halfway there with our standards and systems: structured education programs, religion, hell, even books like All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (we start young, don’t we?).
As a society, we’re very good at rules, laws, governing principles, 7 habits (take your pick – 7 habits of highly effective people or happy kids?), etc. But where we fall down on the job is right here: “…allowing the software to function in other ways than the original programmer intended, without requiring modification of the source code.” Rules are good, they keep people in line. But they are not good when they turn into boxes and prisons that trap people in closed platforms – closed minds. So my question to you is this:
How do we keep our true, authentic selves – our source code – in today’s world of lines and boxes and complications?
Here’s my definition of open: it’s being open to the possibilities. It’s collaboration at its best. It’s a way of seeing the world that allows, not just for shades of gray, but for every shade of every color. It’s an art. A way of living. It’s being open to knowledge that the world is a cruel place where a mother flushes her newborn baby down the toilet. But it’s also a place where the baby is rescued. It’s a place where kids are bullied and shot, but it’s also a place where people are making heroic efforts just to survive day-to-day and make sure their kids have it better than they did. It’s being open and tolerant to different religions, different sexual preferences, and the simple truth that we are all unique in some way. We all have our own source code. And we have to respect that.
It’s also about being open to the idea that you might be closed in some way. Closed to new ideas. Closed to change. Closed to anything that doesn’t ‘look’ like what you see in your mind or what you have always known. Or closed to seeing a hard truth or reality that is part of your source code, but you just can’t – or won’t – see it. You can close your mind. You can close your eyes. But the truth is, you own your source code. Whether you get full functionality out of it or not is entirely up to you.
Think about it. Be open to the possibilities.