Moving FOSS in governance forward

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The IPD‘s “Philippine Conference on FOSS and e-Governance” (see first photo) concluded this afternoon with commitments from major stakeholders to move the FOSS initiatives forward. Present during the closing session were the National Computer Center (NCC), Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), PLUG, Bukas, IOSN, National Telehealth Center, among others. The closing remark by IPD’s Chair, Maitet Diokno-Pascual, was very heartwarming. She admitted that being the latest convert for FOSS, she felt that she had space in the FOSS community. (That reflection is true with other IPD Board members who, I guess, only realized the beauty of FOSS when the Institute was able to clinch the project with EU.)

There was a resolution that the IPD would produce a report about the conference, which should contain advocacy points that would be discussed in a follow-up big meeting to be sponsored by the NCC.

I suppose that the conference was the first one ever organized by an NGO. The previous major conferences on open source that I attended were all run by profit-oriented private firms. The IPD was fortunate to have sourced funds for such an event, thanks to the small grant facility from the European Union.

I commend the organizers for making a very good statement on FOSS. The event was unique in the following terms:

  1. BSD computing platform and Joomla as content management system were promoted, but rather without hard sell from the organizers. In fact, PLUG was still able to hoist its banner inside the conference room (See third photo).
  2. No commercial sponsorships. Exhibitors were purely advocates of FOSS as well as FOSS developer groups. Booths I managed to see were those from National Telehealth Center, Ubuntu Philippines, Joomla, Asiasource 2, and Orange and Bronze. (Of course, PLUG was there as well.)
  3. Convening government representatives as well as other sectors (NGOs, IT sector, and academe) inside a big room for two days to come up with strategies to move FOSS forward. (See second photo.)
  4. Highlighting FOSS initiatives at the ground level that have worked. (See sixth and last photo.)
  5. Sharing of FOSS lessons from Belgium and Bulgaria as well as from local personalities like Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, former CICT Commissioner Boying Lallana (see fifth photo), and Dr. Eloy Marcelo.

I did not attend the first day fully and was not omnipresent enough to cover all the sessions of the conference. But I’m sure that it went smoothly without major glitches.

I just wish that there would be a follow-up phase to the IPD-EU project on e-governance initiatives. But this time, the next undertaking should be broad enough to involve other stakeholders not involved in the first one.

Indeed, the FOSS movement is emerging and shows signs of hope for the future. There is a major challenge, though: How to effect unity amidst the diversity of initiatives. Unity, for me, will only be achieved when there are enough personalities championing FOSS. And diversity will continue to flourish if the FOSS leaders nourish the conditions for a thousand flowers to bloom, so to speak.

To echo Maitet’s parting words in her closing remark: May the FOSS be with us!

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