Digital inclusions & democracy

Digital inclusions & democracy

25% of the UK population don’t have broadband, this is higher amongst the poor and the old; it generally costs more than the BBC Licence. Also not all internet users are Facebook users. Facebook (& other social media providers) cannot act as a guarantor of identity in government and political business, partly because they’re proprietary, closed source systems and thus users, citizens and judges do not know what the code does. Digital inclusion is still one of the key political issues to be addressed in the internet age, governments and political parties need to step very carefully when they use social media platforms as a means of understanding people’s views; this is before we consider the anti-democratic nature of survey’s and referenda, you can only answer the questions asked, usually in a binary or scalar fashion. It’s not good enough …..oh yeah & open source.

Commoditisation killed Sun Microsystems

Commoditisation killed Sun Microsystems

Eric Raymond,  wrote a short article on his blog, “Commoditization, not open source, killed Sun Microsystems”, which I commented on. This blog article says a little bit more than I felt I had room for on someone else’s blog, and I probably abused his hospitality there. I have thought long and hard about this, because I worked there and thought it i.e. the company was worth saving. Here’s what I said on Eric’s blog, and a bit more.  I start by saying that the first thing about Sun’s failure is that it all depends on where you want to start; Sun’s failure was baked in long before the 2000 fall from profit.

Voting by Mobile Phone

Voting by Mobile Phone

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian today bemoans the low turn out and the perceived ‘rotten borough’ nature of Britain’s parliamentary democracy. Among her arguments she suggests voting should be made easier by allowing people to use their mobile phones.

I have commented; because identifying oneself to government, counting elections and guaranteeing the secrecy of the ballot are the last things we should hand over to proprietary, closed software. Digital activists have come to the conclusion that even counting election results by scanned paper ballots is undesirable and where it is done in this country, a sample based manual verification is undertaken. I presented the argument that the regulator’s code must be open to the @labourdigital Top of the Manifestos event.

Policy for Labour on the Digital Economy

Policy for Labour on the Digital Economy

The Labour Party’s proposed policy programme only mentions the digital economy once, and this is to promise more speed, everywhere it can go. There are two internal pressure group style swarms/groups/initiatives looking to do better.  The first is launched by the front bench incubated if not commissioned by the impressive Chi Onawaruh MP, currently shadow spokesperson for the Cabinet Office. This has it’s home at this site, Chi publicised the initiative at in an article at Labour List called How can we make Digital Government work better for everyone?. A great deal of thought has been undertaken in launching this initiative. The second initiative is @LabourDigital,

Can Free Software save the public money?

Bern City Council have adopted an Open Source software procurement policy.

This reported by long time Open Source campaigner, Simon Phipps in his Computer World blog. It seems, as in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, that this decision had a champion, in this case, a Councillor called Matthias Stürmer. Phipps story details the bureaucratic politics around the trigger decision which was the Microsoft licence renewal agreements. The size of the agreement required Council approval and the Council had been moving towards preferring Open Source IT. The Council review requirement led Microsoft to reduce the cost to a value below the review threshold and the renewal was approved without the Council approval. The Council was, it seems, unamused and took action to ensure that the policy preferences of the elected council were to be obeyed in future. Phipps reports,

Are liberal licenses a better future proofing

A couple of days after the Kable Open Source conference, I looked up Gianugo Rabellino’s blog and read his then most recent blog article, “Of Oracle, Sun and Open Development” about the impact of M&A on open source investment protection.

The conclusion I draw from his article is that open source adopters need to make investment protection a selection criteria. Its well understood that the vibrancy of the product community is crucial, so its just obvious that taking a view on the future is as important. Gianugo also argues that liberal licenses enhance the ability of a community to survive M&A activity. I think he’s probably right, and this means that license terms might become important even to end user sites who have no intention of distributing software. It may also be worth measuring how diverse an open source development community is before adopting the software.

Open Source in the Public Sector

Open Source in the Public Sector

I attended Kable’s “Open Source in the Public Sector” 2009 conference and captured and published my notes at my original Sun now Oracle blog, the hyperlinks are listed below. I have reproduced and edited the articles here. This is backdated to the date of occurrence. The main changes are to repair some lost hyperlinks i.e. those that disappeared when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems. Interestingly Liam Maxwell, who became the Deputy CIO for the UK Government spoke on Government and procurement but I didn’t consider his points worth recording. Shame on me. DFL 25 Jan 2014

Open Source, the price is right

Open Source, the price is right

I shall be speaking tomorrow on “Open Source, Free the right price!” and shall be posting my slides here. I have been busy reading up my undergraduate economics to remind me of what I learned then and check that it hasn’t changed. I borrowed Beggs, Fischer and Dornbusch’s “Economics”, since I got rid of my text books years ago and this seems to be the modern equivalent. The presentation covers some theory of the firm, poses community vs. a supply chain, IP Law and its impact on the software supply chain and finishes with some conclusions about free.