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A New Software Manifesto for India

A new voice is rising from the great democracy of India, and that voice is proclaiming that the only responsible choice for public sector software is software that is first and foremost available to the public-to read and understand, to modify and improve, and to share and redistribute. The campaign Public Software for Public Sector has published a Manifesto expressing their belief that free and open source software is a natural fit for the vibrant traditions of Indian democracy and its emphasis on sharing knowledge, and that the liberal licensing policies of such software are necessary to ensure that India can build a stronger economic base for the 21st century.

From the End of the Beginning to the Beginning of the End

When Eric Raymond posted the first of the Halloween Documents in 1998, it marked the end of the beginning for open source. That is to say those documents demonstrated that the logical superiority of the open source development model had penetrated the most headstrong corporate skull in the proprietary software universe: Microsoft. The fact that Microsoft could judge major open source projects to be equal or possibly superior to their own efforts more than 10 years ago, and the fact that they recognized

The ability of the OSS process to collect and harness the collective IQ of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing. More importantly, OSS evangelization scales with the size of the Internet much faster than our own evangelization efforts appear to scale.

- Halloween I

that open source was getting better faster than they could ever hope to accomplish working by themselves. Yet instead of adopting these superior methods for the benefit of their customers, they formulated a strategy to lock-in customers, fence out competition, and essentially use the patent system in the opposite way it was intended, namely to frustrate progress in science and the useful arts, rather than promote it. Brian Kahin writes an article that tells us that Microsoft has signaled it has now reached the beginning of the end. But for whom?

One Laptop Per Child in Afghanistan

CNN reports Laptops bring lessons, maybe even peace. It's good to see the One Laptop Per Child project back on track.

To me, the most exciting thing about the One Laptop Per Child project is that it dared to challenge educational and capitalistic orthodoxy, offering an authentic platform for true experiential learning. The concept of open source was absolutely essential to the vision, not because kids cannot hack binary code--they do it all the time. But because virtually all proprietary software licenses make real learning--learning through experimentation and discussion--illegal. It makes absolutely no sense to put into a child's hands software that cannot be read, modified, and shared at the very same time when we are trying to teach children how to read, how to manipulate things, and how to share.

Support Carl Malamud as Government Printer

Please lend your support to Carl Malamud's effort to be appointed as the Government Printer, called YesWeScan. He has a history of breaking out closed (or difficult to get) government information. I've known him for over 17 years, and I trust that as the printer of government documents, he will make sure that these documents are also available in electronic form. Open Data is the left hand to Open Source's right hand!

UK Government Getting Real About Open Source

In December of 2008 it was discovered that Bernie Madoff may have perpetrated a scheme that defrauded investors of as much as $50B USD. With a fraud so large, the scandal cut across a wide range of social classes, from the financial aristocracy to the merely comfortable. One of the many questions asked was "how could such a large fraud have escaped detection for so long?" It turns out that people had been trying to blow the whistle on Bernie Madoff for 10 years, but such whistle-blowing fell on deaf ears, perhaps because the regulators were simply too impressed with Madoff's self-described success to do their jobs effectively.

In the wake of that embarrassment, regulators decided they might as well follow up on tips of another fraud that had been reported since at least 1999.

Looking for speaking opportunities in the Northeast, giving mapping parties in Boston and NYC

Hey all, I'm looking for speaking opportunities in the Northeast of the US, specifically near Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh. Will talk about Open Source, Open Data, and OpenStreetMap. Thursday or Friday nights preferred. Tuesday nights not preferred.

Also running mapping parties in Boston 2/14-15 and New York City 2/21-22. Follow the link if you're curious about mapping parties.

The OSI Board, annotated

Bruno Souza uploaded his OSCON 2008 photo of the entire OSI board. I added notes for everybody's name, so you can see the entire set of board members.

Missing link found, fixed

Last week I posted a story titled Are we really wasting $1T USD annually?" and I used our spiffy Drupal software to attach a PDF document to that blog posting. This was the first time I used the attachment feature, and what I didn't know was that unless you were logged into the site (as I was), you couldn't see it.

My apologies.

I have now made the paper available via an explicit link in the article. Or you can click through to the paper from this link.

The Open Source Initative at FOSDEM

The Board of Directors of the OSI typically conducts two face to face meetings each year. Our first meeting in 2009 will take place this week, just before FOSDEM, one of the largest open source conference for developers. We want to use this opportunity to be more visible in Europe, and to meet open source developers, users and policy makers.

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