November 16, 2004 04:29 | Bits / Culture / Features / Social / Stories

Open Source Religion

"Release early, release often."

(disclaimer: many of the facts - names of cultures, places, people and dates - are not terribly known to me. I am not a scholar, I'm a hobbyist.)

There exists a fantastic Open Source project that has been under active development for well over five thousand years. I shall refer to it here as "The::WoRd", a cleverly played acronym for "Theologism - Western Religions".

Though there is disagreement over where and when the project exactly started, it is generally understood that various groups of people in various regions of the area we currently refer to as "The Middle East" started it. Each started with the basic goal of somehow explaining "The Great Mystery of what is Life and Death all about". (One would assume that prior to the beginning of the project, this involved a lot of gesturing, humming-and-ahhing, and head scratching... as is still very much the case today...)

In the initial Alpha stages, each group just sorta started from scratch, using their own language, and built up terribly buggy frameworks. Some quit, some crashed, others got picked up by local governments seeking to streamline their processes (as that whole project was also just beginning...).

Over time, developers from many of these efforts would sometimes meet, presumably at Bird-of-a-feather sessions or Foo Siege Camps. They'd swap ideas, what worked, what didn't, "how did you fix that problem?", etc. Every now and then some intrepid soul would come by and talk about standardizing and everybody would blink and take another sip of their coffee. Or whig out and kill him. Depended.

Some of these projects had neat codenames like "Zoroastrianism"! Still in use today even. Sumerians, the Ebla culture, the Mitannians, the Hittites, indus civ... a few amongst a seeming plethora.

Trade was booming thanks to the development of city states (hellooo government!), and one group seemed to move around quite a bit back then. Babylon, Egypt... all over really. It was during one of their mass migrations, or rather Exodus, that one of these aforementioned standardizers, fellow by the name of Moses, had a blazing vision and declared: "Enough of this Golden Bullsh!t."

Behold The::WoRd version 1.0. Codename: Judaism. Ten rules, two stone tablets and One God.

And thus begins a long process of unifying codebases, standardizing language (more or less... this whole project is amazingly language agnostic...), calculations, revisions, revisions, revisions, annotations, etc.

Every good Open Source project eventually branches. New needs, new features, new bugs. Heh. A brash young hell-raiser, Jesus, raised as a carpenter and so a real practical, hands on kinda guy, figures he wants to simplify it all. Things had gotten out of control, feature creep and whatnot. He felt the original power was hidden in too many doodads. (He wasn't to be the last.)

At this cross-roads, we are introduced to The::WoRd version 2.0., Codename: Christianity. What a killer app, w00t!

The rest of the story is fraught with many many more branches, revisions and all the holy wars and bloodshed such things normally entail. Not long after 2.0, one Mohammed shows up and declares he's got an even better idea and releases 3.0: Islam. Lean, mean and even more flexible than it's ideological inheritance, Islam is a smash hit with all the hip kids who are into this "new" thing called "open communication" and spreads like wildfire, or, if you prefer, like fresh hummus on a pita. (Mohammed's words, unlike his predecessor's, were immediately written down and copied and distributed. A bunch of northerners from Europe swiped the whole Christian codebase, bolted on a fancy, if bloated, GUI, limiting what one could do with it and enforced a monopoly known as the Christian Dark Ages of Silence. Meanwhile, the Middle East became the center of learning and culture; the processing and storage needed to saturate the lines of communication...)

The funny thing is, as a dear friend likes to put it, right around the same time all this started, a couple of chinese figured it all out, smiled and farted.



Another philosopher, Michel Onfray, came at all of that and says... no more standards and craps like that. Just Be Hedonist and set the rules in..... P2P.

.....and ... maybe you should become a scholar ? you'd be great at it !