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.
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.
In email to a third party, copied to me, Linux activist and long-time friend Rick Moen comments on the acronym FLOSS (usually explanded "Free, Libré, and Open Source".
The emphases above are, understandably, in the original report.
Apparently large parts of the bureaucracy that is responsible for the confidential and correct processing of criminal matters and all sorts of sensitive personal information associated with the crimes runs essential services on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.
That version of the Microsoft product is so old it is officially abandonware, and early reports of the police network problems included the oldish news that even the antiware vendors have stopped supporting the system. Later reports had police IT department officials claim that the worm infections were not that much of a security problem, since at this point all the worm actually did was spread.
I just saw the news that Finland has made the decision to use open source software where possible for public administration. The order is written in Finnish, but thanks to the magic of Google Translate, the English version can be read here:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!