Government Open Source Conference 2007

Some day I will join the ranks of diligent bloggers and post here with reasonable frequency. In the mean time, my writing efforts all flow to my favorite project, Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON). It’s coming up in just two weeks in Portland. The process of creating this hand-crafted event gives me plenty to share, but leaves little time to share it other than pushing session descriptions onto the conference web site. It puts me in touch with people all over the world that are doing interesting, compelling, innovative things that I think should hear about. Today, I’ll comment on the conference itself.

GOSCON remains a non-profit endeavor of Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab (OSL). Why do we do it?

Community Building. OSL was created to support the open source community, consistent with the university’s generalized mission to build community. I joined OSL to extend that mission into the public sector. I think the opportunity for state and local government is tremendous, and providing education at the management level key to reasonable and successful deployment of OSS.

Platform for Collaboration: State and local governments have a desire to collaborate. This is not an easy task in the government environment but there are plenty of agencies ready to take it on if made less painful. We’re a long way from government 2.0, but we need to learn from every successful AND unsuccessful project and GOSCON is a place for these connections to take place, at the podium and in the hallways.

Open IT EcoSystem Building aka Market Building: Government will never go it alone on software acquisition, deployment, training, maintenance and support. Vendors who are uncomfortable with the idea that they may loose market share in the government space and react by spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about OSS are worrying about the wrong problem. When we gathered to create the first GOSCON in 2005, one state agency CIO asked me “How will (insert large traditional national IT consulting firm here) support me if we move to Open Source development and applications?” In 2006, the large national traditional IT consulting firm sent two representatives to attend, listen and learn (and so did medium size firms, application providers, small consultants – the list goes on). This year the registration list expands to include silicon valley start-ups and others that want to be part of the conversation.

How do we do it? With a lot of help from my friends, and their friends too.  More on that tomorrow.

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