Last month I participated in the third annual CONSEGI conference in Brasília, Brazil. The first CONSEGI conference was organized in 2008, and though it was organized by and for the Brazilian government, it speaks loudly and clearly with an authentic open source voice. In that first meeting, the CONSEGI declaration stated their disappointment in the appeals by several of their ISO/IEC national bodies being dismissed by the ISO and IEC technical management boards in the Standardization of Office Open XML, and criticized the ISO/IEC for "inability to follow its own rules". The declaration called into question credibility of ISO/IEC, with the signers asserting that they will no longer consider ISO standards to be automatically valid for government use. In 2009, CONSEGI hosted the 3rd International ODF Workshop and established the Brasilia Protocol, which commits its signatories to use ODF internally, with each other, and ultimately in their electronic interaction with third parties and the public. (I was a signatory to that protocol representing Red Hat.) And so I was very excited to see what CONSEGI 2010 would set as its agenda.
The "Project Description" of CONSEGI 2010 contained this paragraph which really highlights the answer to the question "why open source?" in Brazil (or in any other Democratic government):
The citizenship vision that goes under CIT (Communication and Information Technology, aka ICT) public politics of the Federal Government has as reference the collective rights and not only the sum of the citizen individual rights.
Think about that for a moment or two...
Open source is everywhere today and there is growing awareness that companies have to meet certain obligations when distributing open source software. Here are some useful resources to learn more about open source compliance.
Last year I attended Open World Forum in Paris. It was a lively conference with broad representation of industry leaders, community organizers, and government officials and administrators. The warm reception by the Mayor's office in Paris (at the Hôtel de Ville) underscored what has become increasingly obvious in the analysis of economic statistics: open source software is appreciated, in Paris, France, and Europe. My reflections on the subject of last year's topic, the digital recovery, were captured in the blog posting From Free to Recovery. This year, the agenda of the Open World Forum (Sept 30-Oct 1, 2010) is more ambitious, and I am pleased to be on the program committee, an editor of the 3rd edition of the FLOSS 2020 Roadmap document, as well as one of the organizers of a think-tank session focused on, and beyond, the role of open source software and the future of the BRIC thesis.
Pamela Jones, of Groklaw, thinks that OSI has a problem in Open Core. I think she has it backwards. The Open Core (most notably SugarCRM) folks have a problem. They'd like to convince people that they can achieve the open source effect by having two versions of their code: an open source version, and a proprietary version. They'd like to convince people that their proprietary code is going to benefit from the open source effect. Good luck with that!
When I started working on GNU C++ in 1987, I could almost feel the course of history changing with every line of code I wrote. When I started Cygnus Support in 1989, I was convinced that it was only a matter of time before companies began to realize that proprietary software restrictions did nothing to help their competitive advantage and everything to harm it. And though early funding for my work came from government agencies (US DARPA in 1987 and French INRIA in 1988), I never quite expected to be visiting and promoting open source in Malaysia [short version] [longer version]. Yet such is the reach of open source software! Now the Government of Malaysia proudly reports an astonishing 97% adoption rate for open source software in this new report:
I'm running a BOF at OSCON on Wednesday night July 21st at 7PM, with the declared purpose of adopting an Open Source Definition for Open Data. Safe enough to say that the OSD has been quite successful in laying out a set of criteria for what is, and what is not, Open Source. We should adopt a definition Open Data, even if it means merely endorsing an existing one.
Will you join me there?
On April 20th, 2010, a methane gas explosion ripped apart the operational oil rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico. This accident has become a catastrophe - the largest oil spill in US history. It has damaged the entire ecosystem of life in the Gulf. The ocean waters and shorelines of Gulf states all the way to Florida and the Mississippi river delta continue to be ravaged by the gushing oil. The spill is affecting millions of people, marine life and wildlife.
Those of us who follow the growth of open source in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) know that both Brazil and India are leveraging open source at a rapid pace towards economic development.
When I said recently that we still need the Open Source Initiative (OSI), it started a flood of comment. There's no doubt that we need OSI - but we need a better OSI. The one we have now is just too small to be effective and too mired in past successes; a renaissance is needed. You can help.