Open Source

By Mike Gifford on 19/02/2009
Well, it's been interesting to see how the government is choosing to investigate alternative software licenses.  In a very broad definition that includes (thanks Wikipedia for this summary) it isn't clear that this definition is going to provide them very useful responses:
Freely redistributable software
Free software
Open source
I wanted to thank the many respondents who took the time to fill in our survey. 
Michael Richardson, Sandelman Software Works Corporation...
By Mike Gifford on 11/02/2009
One of the reasons given about why the government should worry about open source software is security.  I'm rather tired of this argument, so after hearing it one too many times, I decided to take some action. 
The concern is that if a piece of software is open for everyone, including hackers, it will be more vulnerable. This has been shot down any number of times, with some of the best known arguments stemming from the idea that many eyeballs will give you better confidence in the security of your software. Others security experts that have argued that good open source software is as secure...
By Mike Gifford on 03/02/2009
I attended an excellent talk last night about GCPedia that was presented by Jeff Braybrook, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Canada at a Third Tuesday Ottawa Gathering. It was excellent to hear more about the history of the adoption of the open source tool Mediawiki within the Government of Canada. Jeff described Canada's CTO office as being "Hawkish about open source", and wanting to use it as much as possible. At a time when procurement officers and IT departments are still questioning whether or not open source can be used within government, this was great news.
His view that wiki's...
By Mike Gifford on 20/01/2009
OpenConcept has been working with our clients since 1999 to ensure that their content is positioned well.  There have been a lot of changes over the past decade and we have been involved in many organizational efforts to understand the web. 
We have only recently started offering strategic planning workshops for organizations who want to come to a greater understanding of how to make better use of the Internet.  Involving both technical and senior communications staff we can walk through issues that all national organizations are struggling with.  The web moves quickly and it is critical that...
By Mike Gifford on 03/01/2009
So I decided it would be interesting to do a bit of a search within the Government of Canada's public pages for use or mentions of wiki's.  There's been quite a lot of discussion on this front in 2008, so wanted to see where things stood at the beginning of 2009. 
Unfortunately there were only 404 references to the term wiki within domains with a * domain.  Most wiki's aren't public so that isn't too surprising, and the two big instances of wiki implementation within the Government of Canada (GCpedia & NRCan's wiki) certainly aren't visible outside of their networks.  Most of these...
By Mike Gifford on 21/11/2008
Just wanted to add that the Obama administration is reviewing OpenID for consideration within the .gov domain ( also now using Drupal).

David Eaves just wrote up a good appeal for OpenID in his post canadian governments: how to waste millions online ($30m and counting).
Looks like the USA government is now endorsing OpenID (note site now using Drupal) as a framework.
I wanted to point folks to a GC OpenID (no longer available), a proof of concept project to bring OpenID to the Government of Canada.
I first became aware of the movement behind the OpenID project back in 2004...
By Mike Gifford on 09/11/2008
Well, I just got back from a whirlwind tour of Toronto.  I had agreed to present at the LabourTech 2008 conference back in March, when Chris Lawson, CUPE's Webmaster, asked me to participate.  I was very impressed to see the turnout this weekend.  There was quite a large turnout from Canada's Trade Union community.  It is the first event of it's kind I know about and it was great to see this many people get out and discuss.
I was part of a 3hr panel, the Open Source CMS Smackdown, which was a very friendly review of open source content management systems and a more in-depth comparison between...
By Mike Gifford on 02/10/2008
I had to write a short note about a concern that was passed along to me about having public facing websites having databases on them.  The opinion passed along to me was that it was insecure to have a database driven dynamic website for a public government department because the database made the whole system less secure. 
I just needed to state clearly that it is the scripting languages that interact with the browser that are the main point of concern, and these are well used in most GoC sites.  Yes, if the .asp or .php scripts that are driving a page were badly written or just not monitored...
By Mike Gifford on 02/07/2008
The great news is hat wiki's are becoming mainstream these days and increasingly we are being approached by people particularly in government who want to adopt some type of collaborative and spontaneous editing environment that made wiki's famous. Unfortunately some of the elements of wiki's that have made them successful also makes them more difficult to adopt by non-technical and more bureaucratic organizations.  
Resources like Wikipedia have proven how valuable information can be freely organized by a community of users quickly and efficiently. Wikipedia is a great model and fortunately...
By Mike Gifford on 12/05/2008
I don't write about podcasts I listen to unless they are particularly interesting, and One Nation Under Google certainly fills this need. Taped by CKUT and available through Rabble Podcast Network, Darren Barney's done an excellent job to challenge how we think about the politics and technology in our modern world. He reframes the definition of citizenship to be based on the practice of judgment, rather than a right of membership. This is particularly useful when we start discussing about global or wired citizens.
He does touch a bit on some of the new technologies which have been used to...