[Linux-aus] Re: [Osia-discuss] Help with a political approach to Open Source please :)

Adam Kennedy adam at phase-n.com
Thu Oct 6 06:50:02 UTC 2005

Beyond just the deficit-influencing factors involved, you could also be 
removing a large amount of process costs across practically every 
industry in the entire country.

A reduction in costs across industry in general means in increasing in 
productivity numbers of the country as a whole. Productivity numbers are 
another big metric that economic types care about (although they don't 
seem to draw the level of media focus the trade deficits do).

And as it matures more, the TCO of open source software and systems is 
only heading downwards. Which means consistent productivity growth.

Of course, I don't have any number to back me up, it could only mean a 
hundredth of a percent per year. But the concept would seem to hold.

And another point, "good for small business". As open source matures, it 
means that small businesses can adopt more powerful software systems 
much earlier in their growth.

As we speak I'm rolling out a 95% open source source internet-based 
solution for a small company with 15 staff and no offices, but at their 
limits. By the end of the year this is going to be 50 people with no 
offices. If I had to use commercial software to build what we are 
building now, they would never be able to afford the of software I'm 
leveraging for this project, and would be in a far worse off position.

And they can add new employees as fast as they like with no additional 
licensing costs.

When you are struggling for cash and need to expand quickly, Open Source 
is much more flexible.

Adam K

Pia Waugh wrote:
> Hi all,
> Over the next 3-6 months I will be approaching several high profile state
> and federal politicians  on behalf of Linux Australia to speak about the
> social and economic reasons why Open Source should be on the Australian
> political agenda. I've got a list of about 15 pollies to start, but if
> anyone has particular suggestions or contacts, please email me off list. I
> won't post them here but will certainly discuss them offlist with anyone
> interested in helping making this advocacy stint successful. I have got
> people from the main ministries of interest (education, ICT), from the four
> main parties of interest (Liberal, Labor, Greens and Democrats), and it
> would be ideal if anyone had personal contacts of use, or independents we
> can approach.
> I am looking at dedicating a serious amount of time to this over a long
> period to ensure some success and longevity of the effort. My aim is to get
> all the major parties talking about the hows of getting Open Source on the
> political agenda, rather than the ifs.
> Below are the main points I'm thinking of basing my approach on. I'd love
> some feedback and fine tuning from you all as it will certainly be an
> attempt to get Open Source out there to a tough audience, and having
> something that is quite representative of our collective thoughts would be
> great. This is a bit of a sounding board to get the message right between us
> before taking it out there. After all, with a well polished message, we can
> all write a letter or pick up a phone to our local and state members for
> serioius impact :)
> The basic approach is to explain briefly and show what Linux/Open Source is
> (laptop demo, remove the fluffiness upfront before delving into the
> interesting stuff), and then feed them some economic and social issues they
> can address with Open Source. Then once we have them on board with the
> positives, we can better communicate our concerns about the FTA and other
> legal foo down the track. This means we can talk about the FTA to an open
> audience that will have already got behind the opportunities and would by
> then be needing to address the challenges.
> Economic platforms:
>         - Reducing the Trade Deficit - 2/3 of the Australian trade deficit
> is ICT related. We can cut this significantly by use Open Source
> technologies as they are very services based, and thus costly short and long
> term licensing fees that usually only minimally support the local economy
> are eliminated, leading to more local expenditure in the way of services. It
> is also useful for local business growth (below) and thus means a better
> local services delivery capability, and thus more money invested into local
> industry growth. Brazil is a great case study of a country turning around a
> $1.4b ICT import economy to a $2.4b export economy.
>         - Growing the local economy - Open Source is booming in Australia,
> and we have more Open Source developers per capita in this country than
> anywhere else in the world, a strong user and business community, and a
> comprehensive Government document on Open Source. Open Source is a ticket to
> growing the local ICT economy and leading Australia to be thought leaders in
> ICT globally. We can be the link between the East and the West in ICT, and
> drive new innovations resulting in a lowered trade deficit, and stronger
> local ecomony. (I need some more good arguments or a case study here,
> suggestions please :)
> Social platforms:
>         - Reducing the Digital Divide - In Australia, the gap between the
> connected and disconnected doesn't just mean no access to google.  It means
> no access to Government services, education, online business opportunities,
> skills creation and no access to the growing online knowledge economy. Open
> Source not only provides a cheap, reliable, hardware efficient and secure
> platform for addressing this, but as it is completely free, people can share
> software with their communities and the net result of rolling out Open
> Source community centres is compounded. India is a great case study where
> telecentres are being rolled out in order to address the growing Digital
> Divide gap, and to ensure a higher skilled, and higher employed population.
>         - Empowering the education system and access to online opportunities
> - Open Source in schools not only provides the benefits already mentioned, 
> but it empowers teachers and students to learn together with free learning
> and teaching tools, and many high quality online teaching applications are
> available for improving education delivery, particularly in remote and rural
> Australia. We can learn from examples like in Extremadura, Spain, where
> 80,000 Linux computers were rolled out bringing the ratio of computers to
> kids in the public school system up to 1:2. In Australia we are no where
> near this figure.
>         - Reducing the technology waste, and impact on the environment -
> Repurposing computers from the public and private sector into disadvantaged
> areas and schools is an excellent way to cut down on unnecessary waste, and
> Linux runs effectively and efficiently on old hardware. Thin client software
> is built into Linux which means that even very old hardware can be used to
> deliver fast and useful systems to the education sector for very low cost.
> Already we have such schemes in Australia such as IT Share, Bettong,
> ComputerAngels, Computerbank, and many more who already do this work.
> A stronger Government push to these schemes will rapidly address the
> opportunity gap existing today in our education system, in poorer and remote
> areas, as well as addressing the environmental impact of technology waste.
> It will also help to grow a strong local ICT industry that is
> self-sustaining and contributing to the net wealth of this country, rather
> than to its deficit.
> Thoughts?
> Cheers,
> Pia

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