FLOSS Advocates Passing Notes to Gillard

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In news just to hand:

A group of "Australia's open source community leaders" have been sending letters to Julia Gillard. I won't reproduce it here (you can read it in its entirety at the "Techworld" link below), but suffice to say that it's basically a plea for the government to consider using Free/Libre and Open Source software in the implementation of the Digital Education Revolution.

While I think that it be great if this rollout happened using even a proportion of F/LOSS products (after all, if children are the future, we need to be teaching them about open source and the benefits of developing anything - not just software - under a community model), what is really going to be achieved by this? For starters, I doubt that this letter is alone - I'm sure many other Concerned Citizens have written to Gillard asking for their software/hardware/firmware/meatware to be considered in the initiative. And I'm sure many of them have done a lot more than send a nicely worded letter. I bet some sent a lovely cake as well, and perhaps a bunch of flowers. I find it hard to believe that Gillard would even have a chance to read these letters, let alone act upon any of them. It also makes me wonder about who the decision maker is in this situation. I haven't read the legislation in it's entirety, but I do believe it would be a case of the government providing funding for the schools to purchase what they required. If this is the case, as I suspect it is, then sending a letter to Gillard isn't going to make a lick of difference - it's the school's IT department that needs convincing. My experience with school IT departments make me think that most are just a school alumnus in between finishing a uni degree and getting a real job, in which case the sales job becomes a trifle more difficult.

That said, I don't believe the letter was a mistake - it has gotten a few people talking about it, and hopefully others (like myself) will be blogging about it. I did spot the Red Hat Blog post ('Truth Happens' link below). After all, any exposure is good exposure - especially where FLOSS is involved. And while it's highly unlikely that it will have the desired effect, hopefully those school IT departments will catch wind and maybe it'll inspire some of them to make the best use of the funds they get. After all, free software isn't just free as in spirit - it's also (mostly) free as in beer.

And for those IT departments who are still sitting in the fence - try starting here:
Linux Australia
Mailing List
User Groups
Techworld - Open source community pushes Canberra on school computer fund
Truth Happens - Truth Happening in Canberra
Image above from the Open Clipart Library.
Posted by user johnny_automatic under a Public Domain Licence.
A 1922 cartoon from Drawn at a Venture by Fougasse labelled "Angry at the News"


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