First steps

Update: After spending six months researching the need for such a project or org, I decided against pursuing it. One key factor was the fact that holistic healthcare is a general societal issue that is not a project so much as it is some ways in which health systems must adapt to modern approaches to both technology and the sharing of information. 

Over the past couple of years I have been looking for my next interest or hobby. Perhaps even something I can throw myself into fully. Something that could even become a next career step. What I thought I was looking for was some sort of concrete project, organization, or business I could create. But, what I found instead was an entire topic and field of human endeavor to become passionate about: fitness.

Fitness is missing in Free Software & Free Culture

For over a decade I have been doing activism and work around free software, free culture, and free educational resources. But myself, my friends and my colleagues in the free and open source software and education world have not made fitness a priority.

There are a lot of new wearable technologies coming onto the market (such as FitBit and UP devices) and countless smartphone apps (C25K, anyone?). But these are all proprietary and there are no good free software alternatives. The free and open source software communities need to begin addressing this head on.

Likewise, since the 1970s there have been a tremendous number of fitness tutorials, books, sites, and videos created. There are even a lot of fitness-related online communities with bulletin boards and mailing lists. However, almost none of this material is freely licensed. Fitness culture needs to be a part of free culture.

Similarly, almost all of the major sites that allow you to create and share free learning resources are focused almost entirely on the topics of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). While this has been an important focus over the past few years while these sites are growing and breaking ground—I think they have reached a level a maturity and wide-spread acceptance that they are ready to be populated with the topics of fitness and health education.

A lot of opportunities

The lack of fitness-related technologies and materials in the free software and free culture space is a problem worth trying to solve. One that I believe I could dedicate the next phase of my life working on. However, there are, in a sense almost too many opportunities!

In just a few minutes of brainstorming, I came-up with a pretty long list of projects and activities I would be excited to work on. Here are just a few items from that list of things I would like to do:

  • Bring together coaches, players, physical therapists, and nutritionists to produce quality tutorials, videos, and resources on everything from stretches and drills to muscle building and rehabilitation.
  • Collaborate with schools and libraries and connect them with anything that makes moving fun and relevant.
  • Understand the legal, technological, and social barriers that exist around fitness education.
  • Blog about everything from life-hackers and habit strategists to radical PE teachers and the not-so-radical fitness.gov initiatives and partnerships.
  • Collaborate with all of the content and curation sites out there and fill them with fitness education materials; and encourage production of good quality materials on sites like ck12.org, curriki.org, cnx.org, on MOOC platforms, and everywhere else I can find.
  • Become a solid contributor to Wikipedia Health & Fitness Portal and other digital platforms and outlets that serve all of humanity.

So, what’s next? You tell me.

I don’t know exactly what my next steps will be or when I can or will take them. I still have so much to learn. And, before I get started on any one large project, or begin narrowing my focus, I want to make sure I spend time surveying the field.

What sites should I be looking at? Who should I be talking to? What should I be reading? What do you want to see created? Any help or advice you can give me as I begin figuring out my next steps on this new adventure is greatly appreciated!

My first steps in my plan is to being using this blog as place to share my progress in the research phase of my new journey, and I look forward to sharing it with you all.

3 Comments »

  1. Marcy Murninghan Said,

    November 5, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    This is awesome, Josh!

  2. Mike Linksvayer Said,

    November 9, 2013 @ 5:12 am

    Very worthy endeavor!

    I don’t know what is in scope (eg diet, general health, sports; each could be or not), but random ideas anyway:

    * There must be lots of fitness oriented materials in the public domain; health/fitness fads/schools are nothing new, and many have produced lots of literature.

    * The whole “quantified self” thing has a major fitness component, and I’d like to know how much of it is freedom respecting, and more of it to be…

    * There’s somewhat of a tradition of hacker diet hacking, maybe worth drawing on, extending to fitness hacking (but please keep it from being a “bro” thing).

    * Doug Whitfield does a “free culture sports podcast” and maybe should interview you or something.

  3. Anonymous Person Said,

    November 9, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

    There are some programs in the free world for nutrition, such as GNUtrition and NUT. I think NUT is more actively maintained: http://nut.sourceforge.net/

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