GOSLINGS - 10 Years Promoting Free Software to Government



May 13, 2012

We were happy to have supported 10 Years from GOSLING to GOOSE event earlier this month. We've been coming on/off for a long while now and have always found the conversations encouraging.  It's been a long, long struggle to get the right individuals in government thinking about how the public sector values of participation, cooperation & standards can be reflected in software.

Government has evolved a risk averse culture and so it is much easier to adopt new ideas when others inside government have tried (and succeeded), than to feel like you are breaking new ground. Having a network of people who can discuss what is happening in different government departments is huge. Sadly, there are huge silos between and within government departments.

Formal efforts like GCPedia and IRCan have done a great deal to allow people to share ideas, but a strong community is only built by people coming together to meet in person.  Informal initiatives like GOSLINGS and more recently the Web 2.0 Practitioners have offered opportunities for people to get together outside of their silos and learn from each other informally.

Free software and the remix culture that came out of it is a embrace many very big ideas. Free software has been a critical part of the success of social networking, open data & cloud development and it is not surprising that, government communications & Information Technology teams need to be working pretty hard, just to not fall further behind.

At the 10th Anniversary party there was just a hint of what's next for this group: "GOSLING Worldwide". The network of free and open source has always transcended international borders as software communities around the world work to produce secure, reliable, flexible and affordable software that meets the needs of government, the private sector and citizens at large. Yet, there's some distance to go before governments free themselves of a quarter century legacy of restrictive influences and practices.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.