Yet another European Union (EU) front group has glommed on to the open source software (OSS) culture and OSS terms and conditions (Ts&Cs) to make a political statement in favor of government regulation and manipulation of the information technology (IT) market. The document could even be seen as calling for UN-like intervention in the market. Called the Open World Forum (OWF), its propaganda vehicle is a document titled the “2020 FLOSS Roadmap.” Open World is filled with the usual litany of front-group capitalized concepts such as Open Platforms, Open Processes Open Standards, Open Services, Open Clouds and the like.
It’s probably no coincidence that the document was launched at an event in Paris because it reads like a modern-day Plan Calcul (that turned out well, non?). The document implies IT workers will have to “volunteer” their time to work on OSS. It uses the words "must" and "impose" more than once. It also implies that these undefined international regulators will reduce the number of OSS licenses available to OSS communities and even force community interaction. These statists even want to regulate business models. I wonder if in this proposed brave new Open World some college kids would be allowed to start a business, say using OSS-based servers running, say closed-source patented search algorithms monetized by, say selling ads?
The Open World Regulatory Authority (OWRA) might even prohibit certain mergers and acquisitions and business practices. Neelie Kroes was not nominated as Czaress however.
Written apparently by a group of academic and political elites along with the usual assortment of vendor-backed consortia, the listed authors also include representatives from Accenture, Alcatel, Bearstech, Experlog, Google (GOOG), Nexedi, OpenLogic, Sopinspace and Sun (JAVA). To be fair, I think the suppliers simply contributed sections or commentary on certain sections. IBM (IBM) and Red Hat (RHT) seemed to have had the good sense to distance themselves from the actual manifesto (the front group’s word, not mine) but both have members on what is called the FLOSS 2020 Roadmap Committee along with AtosOrigin, Bull (BULL on Euronext), Ingres, Mandriva, Nuxeo, Openwide, SAP (SAP), Siemens, Talend and others.
The false economic, historical and technical assumptions are too numerous to mention in a blog post and the document is even geographically inaccurate. Consider this excerpt:
“… Fast developing countries in the South such as China, India, or Brazil have fully grasped the significance of this and are developing a strong industrial and public policy around FLOSS applications so as to reduce the digital divide that separates them from Northern countries."
The fact that OWF has placed China and India in the southern hemisphere is only one of the many problems with its treatise.
Elsewhere it says:
"Today, lower budgets will force organizations to reassess their investments, and to try, as a result, to optimize their development projects. This should have the result of favoring “low cost” solutions and in particular, the development of FLOSS applications. When considering any prospective work, then, we must absolutely take this analysis into account."
The idea that OSS is de facto part of a “low cost solution” is the opposite of what the open source culture and philosophy stands for. In fact FLOSS is an Esperanto-like attempt to combine the English word ‘free’ and the French word ‘libre’ with the OSS acronym, done purposely to demonstrate that the concept of free in the definition of OSS does not relate to cost but means free as in the French meaning of the word libre.
By the way, there is an interesting and easy solution to all the risks the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap authors outline in terms of too much government intervention into your data and your personal code (should you choose not to volunteer). It's called a personal computer.