“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
A few days back, I was chatting with my friends at #l2c2 on irc.freenode.net and the topic slowly came round to How to talk Open Source without sounding like a fanatic. This might be surprising to a few since regular readers of magazines like Linux For You know that Open Source is happening. But then again there are some pockets where Free/Libre Open Source software is still looked upon with a feeling of being part of some nerdy child’s toolkit. This article is a small exposition on how to achieve what that reasoned (and seasoned) level of advocacy.
While we are talking about Linux For You, go ahead and get a copy of the latest issue. It has my dear friend M K Pai splashed all across. Good show MK – that red color looks great on you.
These are crucial times for the Linux User Groups across India. During the nascent stages of the FLOSS wave, the LUGs were the hubs of activity. With a steady adoption of FLOSS across various deployment domains of SMBs, SMEs, Governments the LUGs have shown a remarkable ability to withdraw into their reclusive shells. The vigour which marked the early days are missing. And in some cases the ranks are not being filled up with younger folks. This is not to say that FLOSS is not being taken up by the next generation. But perhaps, the organisation affiliation into the LUG world is something that is not happening. Any student of group dynamics would understand that such role reversal was predictable and is in fact very text-book. On a personal note, I feel that this is the ideal time that LUGs and LUG coordinators should expand their horizons and look towards a more visionary and strategic role. Such efforts should include participation in policy making bodies to ensure that Open Standards are being adopted. This could also include the championing of Open Access clauses and related movements. An immediate project might include a rating of on going citizen centric projects based on the inclusion of FLOSS components.
There are 2 immediate benefits to this. One, the energy which drove the FLOSS fervour in India during the nascent stages would be properly utilised to ensure that follow up actions are in proper shape. Two, an increasing visibility of LUGs would lead to a greater understanding of region specific issues than taking a pan Indian viewpoint for all issues. Frederick Noronha has long been writing about the need for the LUGs to coordinate among themselves and act. Now is the time. A lot of strategic initiatives are slowly being put in place or proposed and this requires a tremendous depth of understanding of the issues-at-hand.