Advocacy material for "going open source"?

Carsten Agger agger at
Tue Dec 30 21:51:30 UTC 2014


I'll not burden you with my personal opinions, then. :-)

Ten years ago, the South African government issued an excellent strategy 
document, "Free/Libre and Open Source Software and Open Standards in 
South Africa: A Critical Issue for Addressing the Digital Divide", 
available at

I addresses the public policy issues rather well, I think! And contains 
some rather compelling thought experiments/case studies as well:



Funeka is a schoolteacher with a mission: to give her dusty, rural 
school the very best. She launches a campaign to build a computer lab 
and approaches various businesses for help. To her delight, one company 
donates 20 computers that are being replaced, but the company will keep 
all their software licenses for their new machines. She also has to find 
her own educational

Delight turns to horror when she discovers that it will cost many 
thousands of Rand for software licenses, including licensing the 
educational software the dealer tells her she needs. To make matters 
worse, casual inspection reveals that the content is geared to American 
schools, using unfamiliar baseball metaphors and the like.

Meantime, Funeka’s students have been doing some legwork of their own. 
They have contacted a young IT company that has offered to network the 
computers and connect them to the Internet. When the company’s network 
guru calls by and finds computers with no software, she installs Linux 
and associated free software on all of them, sets up the network and 
Internet connection and even gives the students a preliminary driving 
lesson on using the software and surfing the Internet.

While Funeka agonises over raising a software budget, the students spend 
many days probing, exploring and discovering new things. Within a short 
time they have learned to do creative projects by searching the Internet 
and sending email around the world for facts they can’ find in the tiny 
school library. Using tools and examples from other Web sites, they soon 
start designing their own school Web site and developing content like a 
Web-based newspaper covering school and local community issues.

When she learns of all this, Funeka is amazed at the creativity of her 
students, and decides that her original idea of what computers should do 
is completely wrong. She had thought of the computer as just another 
passive medium of instruction. Funeka quickly adapts to this awakening, 
and promptly arranges a session on the Internet – given by her students 
to members of staff. They are all amazed that all this has happened 
without the school having to pay a cent in software licenses.

They also heartily approve when the students explain their plans to 
design a community resource for guided access to government Web sites. 
The one concern the students have is that they are often unable to read 
files downloaded from government sites. The problematic files are in a 
format that requires proprietary software to read."

Anyway, I apologize if you already knew that report. :-)

On 12/30/2014 09:30 PM, Torsten Bronger wrote:
> Hi!
> I work in a government-funded research facility.  Over the past 6
> years, we created in-house software for managing our research data.
> I was the primary responsible person for this project.  Now, I'd
> like to see it being converted into an open-source project.  GPL,
> GitHub, etc.
> My boss does not rule it out straight away.  But he likes to be
> convinced that it is a good move.  He has only little idea about
> open-source software, licences and the like.  By the way, we have no
> other "business plan" with this software.
> My question is: Is there any material (slides, web pages, books,
> case studies, peer-reviewed articles) that help with promoting
> converting to an open-source model?  Could you point me to it?
> (I raised this question on a German FSF mailing list a couple of
> months ago but the responses did only contain personal opinions.
> While I agree with all of it, it does not help me.)
> Regards,
> Torsten Bronger.

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