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ZDNet Australia: Open Source for Government: More than Just Free Beer

Sep 26, 2002, 07:00 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Con Zymaris)


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[ Thanks to Con Zymaris for this link. ]

While much of Andrew's thesis can be quickly dismissed and countered, which I will do below, he is right on a couple of points. The thoughts expressed here have had a multi-year gestation period, reaching a degree of cogency only in recent months, when a multitude of events, including the statement of intent to consider widespread deployments of open source technologies by close to 40 countries around the world, including the whole European Union, as well as an attempt (led my Microsoft no less) to stymie this brewing stampede, have caused me to consider this more completely.

"In his piece 'Free source or free beer?' Andrew rhetorically asks if it's a good idea to opt for the cheapest technology (i.e., the one with no licence fee costs) to which he doesn't render a complete response. I'll provide an answer in lieu of his, with the following rumination: the freedom from price of any software should not be the most significant aspect for the selection of software. What is of absolute importance is a combination of open and inter-operable formats, APIs and standards, along with transparency of software. What's at stake is not merely or primarily a discontinuity of commercial interests. It's far more fundamental.

"The core concept here is that government functions differently to commerce, and rightly so. Open government is good government..."

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