From the Board

Trash Talk

The story of "Let's Do It!" is both a story of civic triumph and a validation of open source software technology. But like the successful campaign of Barack Obama, the story of the actual open source software used is far less important and far less interesting than the story of how much the principles of the open source model were brought to bear in solving a problem that seemed virtually hopeless using conventional means.

An Open Source Silo

Okay, so Doc Searls has been blogging for a long time about how you don't want to get involved in a silo (context: a silo is a proprietary user interface built on top of proprietary APIs built on top of a proprietary operating system running on proprietary hardware. If you can't think of any examples, pull your cellphone out of your pocket and think about it for two seconds).

Wanted: Future trainers on "Free & Open Source Business Models for Africa" in East and Southern Africa!

- Are you interested in building a successful business in Free/Open Source Software (FOSS), and in helping others to do the same?

- Do you have a solid background in business and FOSS?

- Do you have experience in training others, and/or are you part of a training institution?

Then respond by MAY 30 to become part of an exciting training programme on building businesses with Free/Open Source Software. The call for participants in the Training of Trainers is now open at the project site

West Africa to invest in FOSS Study

FOSSFA and OSIWA, in their Free and Open Source Software for West Africa and Beyond (FOSSWAY) project are set to invest in FOSS research in West Africa. In the recently published Call for Tender both organisations are awarding a research contract up to the tune of 65 000 US dollars for a Study to be carried out in five West African Countries. The study, whose results will be made available in French and English languages, will be the first to constructively do a hands-on from withing the continent.

When you're in Open Source your error longevity is nearly eternal

When you have a startup you ego-surf a lot. It isn't for the normal reasons people ego surf (indeed there is something inside of me left over from my punk adolescence that dies a little every time I do this). It is for the reasons that PR firms ego search. To informally report how effective you are at making noise for your firm. In the process I discovered this vision document which explains why we (myself and Marcus Johnson) were creating a project that eventually became POI, a project hosted at Apache. I was curious so I looked around. It appears to me that this is a course on doing software the wrong way.

Do Patents Encourage or Hinder Innovation? The Case of the Steam Engine

The Freeman, in December of last year, published an excellent study of a natural experiment in patents: the Steam Engine. The power of a steam engine is rated in "duty": the amount of weight it can lift. During the 42 years from 1772 to 1813 duty rose 3.8 percent per year; during the 38 years from 1814 to 1852 duty rose more than twice as fast-8.5 percent per year. The difference?

Not a coder? Want to contribute to open source?

Are you not a coder? Or are your coding skills rusty, having moved on? No matter! You can still contribute to open source. Open source is only one part of a program. The other part is open data. I'm encouraging people to contribute to OpenStreetMap. We're running OpenStreetMap mapping parties all over the world. All skills taught! What's important is your willingness to contribute to an Open Data project, and location, location, location. We can only map where you are.

275 Open Source Policy Initiatives (and growing)...

The Center for Strategic and International Studies released their sixth update to their CSIS Open Source Policy Study last year, and given their track record we should expect to see a new report later this year. The report now cites 275 Open Source policy initiatives, with 70% now reaching "completed" status. What is become clear to me is the extent to which open source development, deployment, and maintenance practices are becoming the templates for government best practices for managing information technology and transformation.

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