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[Fsfe-uk] Threat of a good example

From: Steve Kehoe
Subject: [Fsfe-uk] Threat of a good example
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 23:12:00 +0100 (BST)

Whilst not myself being involved directly in education
or government (in fact I work in a bank) I have
followed most of the discussion threads since the
start and have been encouraged by the recent focus on
presenting the issues of Free/Open Source to
Government, Educators and Public policy makers
generally. I sense there is a serious lack of
organised and well argued advocacy to challenge the
well financed efforts of propriety vested interests
seeking to lock-in e-Government / e-Education /
e-Health Administration initiatives and effectively
lock-out Open Source alternatives through procurement
decisions that impact infrastructure (skills as well
as technology).
I am currently wading through the various becta and
e-Gov strategy documents, policy statements, reports,
etc. and wondering how joined-up government services,
open and accessible to all can be achieved with a
monopolistic provider at the client end determining
formats and protocols by default; as well as lashing
everyone to the familiar technology refresh/licence
renewal treadmill to feed an outrageous royalty stream
There is clearly a significant task here to educate
the Movers and Shakers about the role of Open Source
in freeing Public policy, achieving long-term value
for tax payers, competitive markets for products and
services, as well as opportunities in the world of
work for those passing through the education system.
I think the phrase "the threat of a good example"
should be employed here to focus attention on what we
can do. I was encouraged by the recent article by
David Wheeler (Why Open Source Software / Free
Software (OSS/FS)? Look at the Numbers!). Looking at
measures for market share, reliability, performance,
scalability, security and total cost of ownership
David has argued on quantitative grounds that Open
Source is at the very least worthy of serious
I would like to take this further and put together
"incubator" proposals for Open Source policy choices
in education, government, health and public
administration generally.
For this I would appreciate assistance in gathering
data on current "ad-hoc" initiatives in UK schools,
colleges, hospitals, etc. where Open Source
deployments have demonstrated quantitative as well as
qualitative added value. The broader the spectrum of
usage, coupled with innovative Open Source based
solutions the better.
Cost is obviously a significant issue for policy
makers  but concerns about on-going support and
training can still push them to select the <big brand
name> unless we can show otherwise.

Comments welcome (keep the flames down}



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