In a truly open, democratic society, the voting process is too precious to be left to private companies. The Open Source Voting Consortium (OVC) is doing something to make sure the voting is a public process from the ground up.
In terms of software, the OVC has developed an open-source prototype that allows a simple PC to be used as a voting machine. On the hardware end, it's designed an electronic voting machine that emits a paper ballot that can be scanned for verification and use by visually impaired voters.
In the spirit of open source, the OVC is making it possible for anybody to see how the machines are programmed and how they work. There are no trade secrets to be protected. Nothing is hidden from the voting public.
You can help the OVC by making a onetime donation for any amount. Or you can become a continuing supporter by pledging ten dollars a month.
4. Observe the Ubuntu Code of Conduct
Sadly, there is a dark side to the open source movement. The darkness manifests itself in many ways: flaming, derogatory remarks, misogynous statements in forums; unfinished critical path code that stops a project from shipping. It's not pretty; but it's there.
The Ubuntu community has a Code of Conduct that was published a while back that outlines an expected standard of community behavior. The primary points are:
* Be considerate
* Be respectful
* Be collaborative
* When we disagree, consult each other
* When we are unsure, we ask for help
* Step down considerately
Following the Ubuntu Code of Conduct will indeed make the world a better place for all coders everywhere. So as the old commercial says, Just Do It!
Read the entire Ubuntu Code of Conduct here
5. Become a Documentation Contributor to an Open Source Project
The next time you think that contributing to an open source project is about contributing code, think again! A commonly overlooked opportunity for making a contribution is by way of documentation. Let's face it -- most coders are really good at writing code and not so good at documenting it.
If you have technical writing chops, you can really help. All you need to do is to check out an open source project that interests you. Take a look at the documentation. If it's lacking, make it better. Your efforts might require no more than making a diagram easier to understand or bringing clarity to some JavaDoc. Well-documented projects are easier to use and easier to maintain. You'll be doing your community a big service.
So there you have it, five things you can do to make the world a better place. All of them require that you make some sort of contribution. After all, that's what open source is about: making a contribution into the common wealth that allows us all to get better at what we do, for the improvement of all.