While I like to wax on about Portland being the de facto hub of open source, truth of the matter is that—just to the south of us—there’s a literal hub for open source: the Oregon State University Open Source Lab.
What exactly is Open Source for America? Aside from being a who’s who of open source advocates, it has the hopes of changing the way government works with open source.
Open Source for America (OSA) is an effort to raise awareness in the U.S. Federal Government about the benefits of open source software. We hope to encourage the government’s utilization of open source software participation in open source software projects, and incorporation of open source community dynamics to enable transparency.
And those thought leaders will be needed. That’s for sure. The entrenched lobbying parties will likely be none too happy to see others recommend that their economic interests be divested in favor of open source pursuits.
Nevertheless, lobbying will be no easy feat as smaller open source companies will have to jockey for position against Microsoft during requests for proposals. Furthermore, in the past government officials have expressed security concerns with open source code. Critics argue that exposed source code can be examined by attackers and therefore poses a risk. Nevertheless, another argument for exposed code can be made in ensuring security. By moving away from proprietary software models and giving free access to a system’s source code, governments are no longer dependent on a select few contractors for their defense. Instead, an entire programming community can be deployed to defend against attacks.
Luckily for the OSA, this is oft-trodden ground for Bryant who has long been a leading proponent for government and open source. She’s perhaps best known for being the driving force behind GOSCON, the premier government open source convention. But that’s not all.
Deborah’s interest in open source and its implication for government is reflected in her civic involvement; she serves as a Board Director for DemocracyLab.org; on the Board of Advisors for the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation; on the Oregon Statewide Distance Learning Advisory Council.
Congratulations to Deb on being named to Open Source for America. And here’s looking forward to great things for both the government and open source, alike.
Tangentially, let’s hope the City of Portland could take some cues from this effort in its bid to become and open source hub.
For more information, visit Open Source for America.
(Hat tip Nate Angell)