Mozilla joins Open Source for America
July 23, 2009 § 5 Comments
Earlier today at OSCON, Tim O’Reilly announced the creation of Open Source for America — a loose, non-partisan coalition of organizations that will raise awareness about the huge potential for open source in government. The press release frames the big picture opportunity this way:
Open source software may not be a cure-all, but it could save billions of dollars, help foster innovation and empower our government to work smarter.
Concretely, the idea is to connect people who know and care about open source with people inside the US government, to help them understand open source and to contribute back. It feels like that can only be a good thing. And, as a Canadian, it’s something I’d like to see happen in other countries also.
A few days before the launch, Mozilla signed on as a founding member of Open Source for America. While Mozilla is global in scope, it seemed important to lend our name to this new initiative. The next question is: how can Mozilla best be involved and contribute? I’d be interested in people’s thoughts.
PS. Sorry not to announce this earlier. There was an embargo on the announcement until today.
Umm? Explain the embargo.
Thank you for the update on this. I wasn’t aware of our involvement here and was a bit surprised by the announcement.
In regards to our participation, I’m a bit unclear as to how the coalition will move forward, but clearly if this group means to effect a change in Washington, the group will need to have people in Washington, taking meetings, explaining the benefits of OSS, advocating changes in how software contracts are awarded, etc. Washington is nothing if not a place where human networks are key. Advocating remotely is only going to take us so far.
More than just lending our name, we ought to consider how we can be truly active within the coalition as well as in DC itself. Does this mean dedicated staff? Perhaps not immediately. But perhaps we ought to consider who might be the right person who could bridge between Mozilla, this coalition, and navigate the complex waters of Washington D.C.
I’m also surprised by the embargo, given Mozilla’s usual emphasis on openness.
Might be worth pointing out that in the Netherlands, we already have something like this, although it’s a bit more generic. It’s called NOIV (roughly translated as Netherlands Open In Connection), and it focuses on open source and open standards.
Explanation on the embargo: the organizers of Open Source for America didn’t want members to announce the initiative in public fora until the official announcement at OSCON. I asked a number of people about this, and the feeling was this wasn’t very Mozillian but also not the end of the world as it was only a couple of days before the launch and joining was likely to be uncontroversial. Could be this was the wrong call, but I do feel joining was the right thing to do.
Gen: I agree we need to take this seriously and put people power behind it. Gunnar Hellekson from Red Hat, and one of the main organizers, suggested we have alot to offer as a project with massive consumer support. That’s something none of the other members bring. Also, he suggested there may be working groups emerging that we could help drive. I’m open ideas from across Mozilla on how to play this most usefully, and of course will keep people informed as I hear more.
Dirkjan: Do you have a link for the Dutch initiative? Does it have a mechanism for different orgs and companies to be involved?