Posts Categorized: OpenSource

Leadership for the Information Revolution

Peter Levesque, in Democracy & Socioactive Software and Technology discusses the effect of the Internet in connecting an unprecedented number of people, who in turn have created a variety of community-based initiatives, such as open source, open content and more flexible copyright rules, like the Creative Commons.

He continues on the Cluetrain thread that markets are conversations, and these conversation must be genuine. This should mean that corporations have to "get real" in order to connect with their markets, as many communities do. But Levesque goes on to say that communities have not been as successful as corporations in producing certain kinds of societal benefits.

Levesque calls for new leadership for the information revolution. "I suggest that the leaders will be found among the aggressively intelligent citizenry, liberated from many tasks and obligations by technology freely shared; using data, information and knowledge acquired from open source databases, produced from the multiples of billions of dollars of public money invested through research councils, universities, social agencies, and public institutions."

I would suggest that business models that will allow the leadership to prosper will be essential. These potential leaders, from the "aggressively intelligent citizenry", need to be free from corporate non-disclosures or government gag orders, and the most effective business model could be the free agent working within a peer network. As tenure was essential for academic freedom, so an unfettered business model may be necessary for future leaders. If all individuals had the rights of today’s corporations, what kind of societal benefits would ensue?

Thanks to Stephen’s OLDaily for pointing to this.

Who is Using Open Source?

Scott Leslie posts on who is using open source course management systems and makes the suggestion that the open source community advertise itself, and become more accesible to the mainstream learning community. Have we reached the tipping point for OSS yet? I noticed that as of today, there are 29 Canadian organisations using Moodle; mostly academic and many in the K-12 sector. Atutor’s clientele seems more eclectic, while dotLRN has fewer installations posted, but the international Greenpeace site is pretty impressive, and yes it includes RSS feeds.

Open Content

Thanks to Stephen Downes’ OLDaily for pointing this out. The PEW Research Centre states that 44% of American Internet users put content online for free. I think that there are a couple of inferences that one can make. First, that it is possible to have content online without paying someone. Second, that if you are going to launch a business that offers content for sale, then it has to be better in some way than all of the free content out there. As I’ve said before, just putting content online is not a viable business model.

This site uses Open Source

This new version of my website launched today. It was built using an open source CMS (content management system) called Drupal. The learning curve was steep for me, until I got over the first hurdle of understanding Drupal’s concepts, especially "books". The great support team at Tantramar Interactive (see bottom of page for a link) here in Sackville, really accelerated the process. This effort took place in spurts over the span of a week.

I would recommend this kind of a website to any small business that uses the web to communicate. Being in control of your content, without too many technical hassles, is wonderful. I’m told that Drupal has the added advantage of being able to survive being "Slash-dotted". This is when thousands of people hit your website all at once. Somehow I doubt that this will happen to me in the near future 😉

Open Source for Learning

About a year ago, I started writing about open source technologies for learning applications, and created a blog to inform my clients and colleagues. It is still available on the QuickTopic site.

I am interested in the new business models that open source software is spawning. I intend to stay abreast of developments so that I can advise clients when it would be appropriate to use an open source system versus a proprietary one. There are pros and cons for either decision.

I am currently working with a colleague on the installation and testing of ATutor and ACollab, both developed by the University of Toronto.