As defined by Open Source Definition at www.opensource.org, it is software that everyone has the freedom to use, modify and share without the need to seek permission or make payment – whoever they are and whatever their purpose. The Open Source Software is free today, free in future and provides freedom of choice today and in the future regarding both vendor and mode of implementation.
In his paper “Why Open Software Matters for Government & Civic Tech”, Rufus Pollock discuss how software is different from other things that government traditionally buy or fund and shows how and why covering:
- Why open software is especially important for government and civic tech
- Why open software needs special support and treatment by government
- What specific actions can be taken to provide this support for open software
Here are 7 key points of activities and factors which I noted from his paper believing that, this are the activities which are feasible for us to implement here at Nepal and will help us to push our 8 years old Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) momentum in our country. I personally believe, we can make a huge impact if we integrate this 7 key point of activities ad factors in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Nepal Community upcoming Action Plan and will open the way of discussion.
- Rewarding open source in IT procurement by giving open source explicit recognition and beneficial treatment in procurements. Specifically, introduce into government tenders: EITHER as an explicit requirement for an open source solution OR a significant points value for open source in the scoring of solutions.
- Promoting commercialization of open source by providing advice, training, and support for open source startups and developers in commercializing and marketing their technology. Open Source developers and startups are often strong on technology and weak on marketing and selling their solutions and this support would help address these deficiencies.
- Running a grass-roots oriented campaign like ‘choose open’ to promote open software in government and government-run activities such as education.
- The government is bad at negotiating, especially in this environment and hence the lock-in problem is especially acute for the government. So, making the government good at decision-making and bargaining by showing them a clear future of open source in the market. Due to the incentives faced by the government as a whole and by individuals within governments, they are especially weak when have to make trade-offs between the near-term and the more distant future. Frequently counseling and running awareness camping will work.
- “Market” isn’t that much helpful for open software so, the challenge for us is to make the balanced environment for open software in the market by challenging propitiatory software.
- Switching costs and lock-in: Most of the users never think about this while making investments in the start, which is the main reason why they find difficulties to switch to an alternative and they end up “Locked-in” to the existing software solutions and vendor. However, for open source the two are different: because the software is open and therefore freely available to anyone-including other vendors- there is no vendor lock-in. Most of the people are still unaware of this problem.
- The government, and their bureaucratic representative over-discount the future compared to the present. Crudely: in ten years time they may not be in office but the software they brought will probably still be in use. This means they underweight lock-in.