[TriLUG] White House response to FOSS petition?
mamiano at nc.rr.com
Thu Feb 2 13:38:12 EST 2012
I don't think a long drawn out political argument would be productive, but IMHO given the timing, framing of FOSS vs the National Debt, and negative language, and the insignificance of software costs with respect to spending deficits, this gives the appearance of an attempt at demonized a class of business person and creating a distraction. That disparaging language is not something I could get on board with as a public policy stance. Having an unelected authoritarian official establishing a seat of control over such activities within the federal government is also a bad path to take, whatever the ostensible good-will that is being expressed, although I can appreciate why someone else might sign the petition.
The federal government already chartered POSIX to ensure open systems and portability among their acquired platforms, and for better or worse courts took the teeth off that standard in the Coast Guard case. I know open systems aren't the same as FOSS, but it isn't as if the federal government hasn't tried to head down that road before in a big way. It was my impression that many departments and agencies already used FOSS. What is stopping them now from incorporating FOSS more?
At a policy level, I've wondered if a more recognition of the cultural phenomena of Foundations and other support organizations is needed, to formalize their value to society with respect to intellectual property. I can imaging some institutions emerging, like software credit unions, where companies and individuals participate as shareholders and clients and the assets are design artifacts, platforms, and tool chains.
On Feb 2, 2012, at 1:17 AM, Kevin Hunter wrote:
> Hullo List,
> This whitehouse.gov petition caught my eye before I was able to push the delete key on a recent list email. While I'm generally and philosophically a proponent of FOSS, I also consider myself a pragmatist: sometimes the existing FOSS solutions just don't cut it, if they even exist. While I'm personally willing to put up with its myriad shortcomings, perhaps because the philosopher in me believes it's the right thing to do long-term, or because I have the (potentially necessary) technical know-how, often FOSS solutions just don't or won't work for "most people" (for various reasons, right or wrong).
> To me, a government supporting (through use, needs, developers, paid support, etc.) FOSS is a sexy prospect. The aforementioned "philosophically right thing long-term" suggests that only good can come of something like this because FOSS generally lacks development funding, large enough user-bases to beget cost-effective support/training, advertising dollars, and is, by it's very nature, difficult -- if not impossible -- to subvert.
> On the other hand, the cynic in me wonders just how much governments rely on various backdoors only afforded them because software vendors have closed-source software.
> Then the realist in me looked at a few US budgets. It is unfortunate that the poster's argument for FOSS in government hinges on "lower[ing] the national debt": my readings suggest that software costs barely register when compared against larger costs, like the cost of an employee.
> All this is to say that I'm curious what an official White House response to this petition would look like. I'm happy that someone brought it up (potentially to the national stage), and I hope it gets some attention, but I doubt any action will be taken.
> Would anyone else be interested in a response?
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mamiano at nc.rr.com
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