Posted by: commonsresource | June 14, 2010

A pony for every child – the politics of open source software

Before my daughter took up riding a few years ago, I failed to fully appreciate the power of the proverbial politician promise of a pony for every girl and boy. And from what I can tell these days, there are ponies in play in the world of open source software.

First, there was the provocative The open source tea party post by Dana Blankerhorn earlier today. He begins his post with the following statement:

Open source, unlike proprietary software, has all the hallmarks of a political movement. In its starkest terms there is a divide between idealists and realists, between those who see FOSS as a creed to be adhered to and those who see it mainly as a business model, a route to profit.

After continuing with his juxtaposition of “open source tea party” and “corporate open source” interests, Dana goes on to note that

The entrance of government into the discussion, in the form of the European Commission, is both an opportunity and a challenge to the idealists. Government power can be placed on the side of ideals. Government can also be captured by private interests. Idealists must be wary.

Second, there was Simon Phipp’s Your Chance To Change OSI post on ComputerworldUK earlier today. Simon’ post, which is largely a call for action for the evolution of OSI,  reads somewhat like the political platform for a new party or candidate.  That being said, he does make a number of valuable points including his observation that ” the maturity of the open source market means the ‘games’ that existing corporations play on the market are sophisticated enough to use open source as a corporate weapon instead of as a path to liberty”.  Simon’s observation, which has an interesting interplay with my Villain post from yesterday,  is followed by his offer of “an opportunity to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem”.

Finally, there is the much tweeted and talked about speech by Neelie Kroes (European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda) at the Open Forum Europe 2010 Summit last week. Since her speech not surprising departed from the text, you may wish to check out Karsten Gerloff’s Karsten on Free Software blog. In his post entitled Proprietary technology is a waste of money, says Kroes, Karsten provides the following summary on her open standard position:

On Open Standards, her message was clearer than I had dared to hope. Kroes said that “truly open” standards “do not come with any constraints for implementers”. That’s important, because Microsoft and others have been trying to convince the Commission that a standard is open even if it can’t be implemented in Free Software. With just this half-sentence, Kroes tells them to buzz off.

and this summary on interoperability:

Kroes mentioned a possible directive on software interoperability. This would be a great initiative. Lobbying pressure would be intense, and we would have to work very hard to make sure it results in good rules, rather than another useless piece of paper. But then things could hardly be worse than today, and you have to agree with Kroes that “the Commission should not need to run an epic antitrust case every time software lacks interoperability”.

and concludes with this

But I’m not only an idealist, I’m also a realist. And realistically, her speech was the best that we’ll hear from a European Commissioner any time soon. So we at FSFE are taking Neelie Kroes very seriously when she says that “I expect interested parties to mostly turn to me to demand progress [on the Digital Agenda] – and rightly so.” This is an offer to get involved, and we’ll take her up on it.

To wrap up, we have Dana’s Tea Party Manifesto, Simon’s OSI reform campaign platform, and Neelie’s opening statement in the great EC Digital Agenda debate.  Looks like a really interesting time in open source politics with many opportunities to get involved and a lot of horse-trading possibilities. Since my daughter has out-grown the stable’s ponies, she may just be interested!


Responses

  1. […] A pony for every child – the politics of open source software To wrap up, we have Dana’s Tea Party Manifesto, Simon’s OSI reform campaign platform, and Neelie’s opening statement in the great EC Digital Agenda debate. Looks like a really interesting time in open source politics with many opportunities to get involved and a lot of horse-trading possibilities. […]

  2. […] sentiments are a natural extension of her stated position on the EC Digital Agenda discussed in my A pony for every child – the politics of open source software post from last month. That being said, I am particularly intrigued by the reported quote from her […]


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