Make NEO the world leader in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 10/30/2005 - 15:21.

It is critical the people and organizations of Northeast Ohio become effective working with open source software. This will support moving all our people across the digital divide (Open Source is free) and prepare our workforce to participate in the evolving global Information Technology economy, which is increasingly build with open source.

Whether hosting open source servers or coding in PHP, there is already a growing need for related talent here and, as the supply of talented open source professionals grows, more people and organizations will become aware of the opportunity offered by open source and demand for such professionals will increase.

To get the ball rolling, we need to distribute Linux to students and teach them how to use it and related applications (OpenOffice, GIMP, etc.). We need to develop more informal and formal training and classes in these matters in secondary, graduate and non-traditional learning environments. And those of us working in the IT space here need to lead by example.

I believe the result will be a more sophisticated, desirable, valuable workforce and lower cost public and private economies that will attract and retain people, organizations, enterprises and business, which will lead to NEO being a world center of IT

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Well, I don't know

Well, I don't know about "the leader". NEO would have to move awfully fast to replace places like Munich(sp?), China, Brazil, South Africa, Oregon, and other places too numerous to count. Japan has a relatively quiet initiative at the national level as well, plus an increasing number of non-profits that are springing up to support it nationwide.

However, that doesn't mean that NEO cannot make a name for itself by proactively using, promoting, developing open source here in the region. I think, for example, that the initiative discussed here is a great first step. I am hoping to participate in the follow up to this effort. In particular, it strikes me that providing the students with training on Linux, not only as an end-user, but as a "help desk" for the senior citizens for example, that you would be giving them sellable skillsets. Taken a few more steps, and they could take the LPI Level 1 tests.

I would also think that Case or CSU offering mirror servers of open source projects utilizing the "ultra broadband" (as Lev likes to spin it) network of OneCleveland would be another effort that strikes me as worthwhile.

Shoot for the stars

Why not seek stretch goals. Inventory best practices around the world
and deploy them here. I didn't say this will happen over night but we
do have like 23 universities/colleges and millions of people in the
region... if they all worked toward common, open vision, we can be a
player - especially as IT is not constrained by goegraphy. I'm
increasingly finding people here who get it... we just need to speak
and act up.

Get up Stand Up

Absolutely agree we can be a player. I was more picking the nit of the word "the" leader. "A" leader, yes absolutely.

And it won't happen overnight, and many locations around the world and in the U.S. have a several year headstart on NEO. But the beauty of the open source mindset is exactly what you suggest - the ability to incorporate best practices from anywhere, adjust them to meet any specific needs of NEO. And then the ability for other folks to take what we have done and make it fit their specific needs. Nobody loses.

I agree with your comment about the need to "speak up". Which is why I am commenting on it and blogging on it. As for the "act" piece, that is why I am interested in the effort in East Cleveland.

Paradigm shift

The cool opportunity is jumping a paradigm ahead without investing in the learning curve - many communities further along the FOSS path have invested in taking the entire world forward. They do have a head start, but at great expense - many FOSS projects have failed and others have had steep curves. NEO hasn't participated or invested in much of that, so at least we don't have any burn-out and flame-outs to deal with... we can look forward to a fairly mature technology world and say "what in the open source world do we want to do today", and what resources are needed in that world for the future. Our schools and universities don't need to figure out whether open source matters - it does - so they can focus on what skills will workers need to excel in the open source world - what standards will survive - what resources are required. Determine the best practices (you suggest Case and CSU set up mirror FOSS servers, like other leading univerisites, for example) and do them, and speak up about it. Lev is starting to do this - others as well - but we still need more educating the educators.

Solutions

You are definitely part of the solutions

Open Source Paradigm Shift - Cirriculum Change

I think this topic makes a nice connection with the one on cirriculum change under Education.  Again we talk about a paradigm shift that convinces people who are already entrenched in a culture of siloed rather than social computing.  I really like Norm's suggestion of benchmarking success elsewhere as one means of convincing people - I really think education and awareness of the numerous advantages of Open Source technology needs to happen at an early age - perhaps even grade school and certainly by middle school. 

 One obstruction to such progress would be established relationships between Microsoft and many schools - but if Open Source could be introduced in pilot programs at some of these schools exposure could be gained to an alternative.  Commitments could be established with new schools and charter schools to stand loyal to open source and reap the cost savings of such an approach.

 We are not only talking about introducing young people to open source but to social computing as standard behavior as well.  Already we see some of this in young users of MySpace or Craigslist - these sites offer incentive to enter the social computing world through the opportunity to meet other people or find a new apartment, car, etc.   If schools can realize how quickly students can build community around their initiatives they might even realize their students can start making a major difference in the community at a young age.

REALNEO is working with this very technology for our region here in NEO. And I believe it is only a matter of time until the paradigm shift and related  transformation of our region happens.  We might as well start now!