[Linux-aus] My View: tis a touch long!

Mark Phillips mark.phillips at automatedtestsystems.com.au
Wed Jan 16 21:01:47 UTC 2008

On Wed, 2008-01-16 at 17:10 +1030, brenda aynsley wrote:
> in what way are you considering "keeping the two consistent" and which 
> message are you wanting to keep on target?
> Whilst there is significant commonality between the two groups 
> unquestionably, there is also a significant difference between the 
> missions of the two groups.  If it were not so, then there would be a 
> merging of the two groups over time.
> I think its important to maintain that separation into the future which 
> is not to say that awareness and cross fertilisation of ideas and 
> messages should not occur.

The only differences I see between LA (Slug et al) and OSIA et al are
the target audiences and the requirements by law regarding what each
body can and cannot do. As far as I can see they are the left and right
arms of Open Source. 

I believe the two differences between the organisational groups are:

1) Lobbying, External Face:
LA, as a non profit, is not allowed to lobby local Governments. I am
hoping that the law will be changed with the change in Government. This
does not mean that LA is a lame duck but that the method of engagement
is different.  LA provides the focus to allow individuals to create and
provide a community/group to focus on key issues relating to Open
Source. E.g. Rusties fun in Europe, the FTA, and the current OOXML
debate. LA also provides the central point for Community based
activities such as the user groups and LCA.  

OSIA is allowed to lobby and to that extent it is appropriate for OSIA
to directly support or criticise government decisions. It is OSIA that
should be engaging industry and government to both make aware the
potential of Open Source for alternatives and viable business models.

There are also an number of external groups in which an Open Source
presence is needed. For example The IEEE Computer Society has been
recently resurrected. One of the first things I managed to get approved
was that we would open the meetings to anybody who wanted to attend. The
side effects of this has been that not only have SLUG and OSIA members
attended but there is now an awareness that Open Source has viable
business models within the local chapter of this organisation. I still
trying to work out that whether having the two major talks at the only
meetings we have held, being Open Source based, is positive for the long

2) Community Focus, Inward Face:
LA is the community side of Open Source. It provides the mechanisms,
support and infrastructure for all relevant local communities. It
provides support so that these communities can not only exist but to
grow. LA focuses on all non-business aspects of Open Source.

OSIA is the business side of Open Source. OSIA provides examples that
the Open Source business models work and have long term potential. It is
the liaison agent between Open Source businesses and their prospective
clients. OSIA is the group I see as providing the infrastructure to
allow groups of our smallish members to combine talents and bid for
large scale contracts. 

The issue of separation

This is not to say that the aims of either body are the same. If we take
the OOXML issue as a point in contention I see LA providing the support
to allow individuals or groups of individuals to point out the
deficiencies in Microsoft's proposal to the various standard and
governing bodies. LA provides the authority/respect to the
people/communities involved in these discussions. LA provides the
credibility. While it benefit users/consumers within Australia.

OSIA, on the other hand provides a business view to this same debate.
Why the standard does or does not make viable business sense, What are
the effects of this proposal on business within Australia, not
necessarily Open Source based businesses. Is is possible for a third
party to easily implement the proposed standard how is it controlled in
future. Does the standard provide a currently unfulfilled benefit to all
communities and participants. Will it benefit Australian businesses,

Anything directly effecting business is where I see OSIA focusing while
LA focuses on community. This does mean though that LA has the more
important role.

The issue of separation is thus a problem. Not only is it difficult to
determine exactly what is direct lobbying and what is just support to a
community but a significant number of the active participants in both
camps are active participants in both camps. This makes it difficult to
separate any potential issues.

A problem that arises from this how do you separate and how do you
engage is difficult. More significantly is how does either organisation
get its message across in that neither organisation has marketing clout
or dollars. 

There has been formed a new business cluster, Embedded Systems
Australia. The supporters of this cluster are not Open Source companies.
It is a bit difficult to tell for sure as I am not sure about some of
the companies involved but none of the companies leap to my mind as
being Open Source based companies.

My company with the support of OSIA are lobbying this group to provide
an on-line teaching mechanism that will provide an introduction to
Embedded systems. What I'm hoping is that approval and thus recognition
will be given to the winning students at LCA each year. The final
contest occurs in early January and thus announcing the winners at LCA
fits in well.

So we have the business side of Open Source providing an opportunity for
the community side of Open Source to obtain mutual recognition. So while
the organisations need to be separate their ideals are not. they just
approach the same problem from different angles 

This is the reason why I also believe that if AUUG folds then LA should
lobby for the Awards currently given out by AUUG, especially the John
Lions award.


The stories given by both organisation is essentially the same just with
different perspectives. Also people subscribe to different lists.
Newsletter articles can be broken down into three areas, LA specific
stories, OSIA specific stories and common articles. By far the common
articles will exceed the organisation specific articles. If we provide
oversight on both lists for articles then for the same bang for buck we
will reach more people with the common articles by posting these
articles on both lists.   

These are my own personal views and as such may not bear any resemblance
to your reality nor are they to be considered as views expressed by or
for LA, OSIA or any of the various open source community groups and
business groups mentioned.

Mark Phillips

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