Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Becta and the Open Source Community: One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

It is a little difficult to feel confident about one's understanding of government grantmaking in foreign countries, but I think the UK K-12 open source community is justifiably chuffed (guess I have my British slang wrong) upset about Becta's awarding of a £270,000 contract to develop an open source community portal to a company with no substantial open source experience. The Register and ITPro have details.

I think part of the problem here is that it is easy for people to still think of open source as "new" in a way that is no longer valid. Even leaving aside the longer history of GNU, there is a solid decade of serious work behind us now in the K-12 open source community -- things were well underway before I started poking around -- and it is a community with low real barriers to entry. The software's free! We're giving it away! Open source writ large is one of the biggest, most inclusive collaborative projects in the history of mankind.

So in 2008, if you're involved in educational technology and not a part of the open source community, well, you've chosen to not be a part of that community, and to not support our goals, for a long time. Will you still be accepted into that community? Sure. Do you have the authority to lead it? No.


Bdidi said...


Tom Hoffman said...

Just trying to use some British slang in my post about UK open source politics. Hopefully I got it right.

Bdidi said...

Err, unless you were being ironic, I'd say not. Chuffed means pleased or happy. The only ones chuffed about Becta's decision are AlphaPlus and whoever it was at Becta who advocated them.