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Thread: Small Community Advocacy (Open Source)

  1. #1
          jhboyle's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2005
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    Irwin, Pa
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    168

    Small Community Advocacy (Open Source)

    Hey everyone,
    [Begin Shameless Plug]
    A good friend of mine has established a web-site advocating Open Source Solutions for local governments and non profits, Check it out if your looking for ways to save money and find alternatives to the WINTEL software. Many of the programs that he lists are comparable to their $$$ counterparts. Check it out at www.tenthousandtowns.org/ [End Shameless Plug]

    Mods... If this is the wrong space for this feel free to move it.

    With this being said....

    What are your experiences with Open Source Software?
    When I started a year ago with the government I work with, I had no Knowledge of it, but now, I am ready to jump on the OS bandwagon. From GIS to word processing to database management and creation to ant virus, I am thoroughly impressed.

    What say the throbbing brain?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Jul 2003
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    San Diego, CA
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    My ideals are pro-open source software. But I have no idea how practical that is. I think the spendy "brand name" software stays around because it is more reliable in certain regards -- i.e. other people are familiar with it; it is compatible with x, y, and z; there is customer support; etc. I have used some open source software for personal stuff and have liked the things I have used.

    I think we need more "commons" in the modern world and open source software has the (theoretical) potential to act as such, in a way. I think modern society has so commodified everything that we fail to look out for the good of the group as a whole and that has real costs for all the individuals involved. Yet, how do you effectively provide something like good quality software, good quality free (non-commercial) websites, etc? Dan struggles with questions of cost on Cyburbia and how that clashes with his ideals -- he apparently doesn't want to make this a commercial site yet it takes a lot of manpower, expertise, and a certain amount of bandwidth and software to keep it going. Also, I have several small websites that are very much neglected. I would like to put more into them and develop them but, like Dan, I pay for bandwidth out of pocket and my labor is provided free of charge and I am hitting a wall on how much I can do. I recently put up a "donate" page on one of them. It has had one hit.

    Hey, I don't usually donate anything to free websites and OS software that I make use of, so what on earth makes me think anyone will cough up for my websites? Yet, it becomes a personal, practical issue that I can use as a lens to focus my thoughts concerning this larger issue -- if The Digital Divide is going to be a major means to sort "rich" from "poor" for the foreseeable future, aren't we as a society remiss in making computer technology (both hardware and software) and internet resources available mostly for pay? Isn't that, de facto, dooming "the have nots" even further? And couldn't it be argued that OS software, if used by government offices, can meet the needs of the public without putting further drain on always limited resources? Or is the reality that it takes too much research, relearning, manpower, etc. to actually implement and, thus, it is not genuinely cost effective for such a setting?

    I guess I am trying to say: Just how does one provide those resources "for the public"? They inevitably have some cost associated with them, if only in terms of manhours. So they can never truly be free. Thus, what is the best way to "pay" for something like that which is for the common good?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
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    7,061
    Wondering if the Super Mods would be amenable to moving this thread to the "Citizen Planners" subforum. Maybe it will get more response there.

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