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For modern app development through open source, users still rule

Open source development brings speed and creativity, but it can also fundamentally change how users employ tech. MIT’s Open Agriculture Initiative illustrates this point. – Modern app developmentmodern app development

BOSTON — During conversations about open source technology for developers, common words included speed, experimentation — and empathy.

Yes, empathy is a key to open source success, according to folks at Red Hat Summit 2017. The idea rests on the notion that while development speed is great and innovation is necessary — both hallmarks of open source work and modern app development, vendors said — programmers must also stay aware about how next-generation technology can affect users.

The work of the Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAg) at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass., offers a good example. The OpenAg project works with Red Hat to develop open source agricultural software, with the goal of creating a more agile way to encourage food production among small, local communities.

In other words, residents in a city borough might someday be able to use open source tech and modern app development strategies to grow their own food. Technologists currently undertake that activity in the MIT Media Lab by studying digital farming and plant physiology, growing broccoli via an IP address attached to sensors.

Caleb Harper, director and principal investigator at OpenAg, told attendees at the Red Hat Summit that digital transformation technology could make it possible to introduce 1 billion new farmers into urban neighborhoods along the way to establishing digital growing areas. Continue reading