blog The publication of the Australian Government Information Management Office’s new open source policy for the Federal Government published yesterday certainly stirred quite a lot of debate, and the comments keep on rolling on on the issue.
So far, the reaction appears to have been fairly mixed, with views on both sides — although those that have written longer commentary pieces on the subject predominantly appear to be on the cynical side of the fence. Writes Stephen Collins at acidlabs:
In spite of what I desperately hope will ring in some real and wide-ranging consideration of open source options (note, I don’t say deployment — that’s a choice based on many complicated factors), I’m doubtful it will result in much change any time soon. In fact, based on my experience, the status quo will hold.
It’s not that these policies prevent change happening, it’s just that they do nothing to actively encourage it. There’s nothing in them to ensure change, or the introduction of additional, and often useful tools or alternatives. We’re a long way off, for example, any federal agency deploying OpenOffice as standard, and further still from a common Linux desktop.
This policy is certainly a good start, moving government support for open software further than its former “informed neutrality” to a request for active consideration. However, I’m not sure that it will be enough to balance out the problematic factors I’ve laid out above. To steal the words from former Electronic Frontiers Australia vice-chair Geordie Guy on Twitter, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it risk its career recommending unsupported software…”
What I’d really like to see from the debate today would be a strong third party supporter of the policy to come out and provide an alternative view and bring a higher degree of balance to the discussion. Anyone?