While everyone else is looking forward to finding out who wins today's election, I'd like to take a look back at open source's brief moment in the spotlight during the campaigns. As Dana noted earlier, Scoop is playing a large part in the success of DailyKos, but only two presidential campaigns actively dabbled in using open source to create communities to support their candidates. Before John Kerry got the nomination, the Howard Dean and Wesley Clark campaigns had started open source projects to help drive their campaign. I covered both projects, and each one was supposed to live on beyond the 2004 campaign. Clark's project, TechCorps hasn't fared very well. The Techcorps.net site that was supposed to house the project long-term is timing out, a pretty clear sign that TechCorps went the way of Clark's campaign. The "DeanSpace" project (based on Drupal) is another story. DeanSpace seems to have successfully made the transition to CivicSpace, "a grassroots organizing platform that empowers collective action inside communities and cohesively connects remote groups of supporters" according to the CivicSpace website. Judging by the blog, there does seem to be a healthy amount of activity and life left in the project long after the Dean campaign has closed up shop. While DeanSpace, I mean CivicSpace, hasn't taken the world by storm, it's chugging along nicely and being used by a handful of organizations. As open source projects go, a 50 percent success rate is actually pretty good. Freshmeat.net is clogged with entries of open source projects launched with grand intentions, only to fade away after one or two updates. It's easy to start an open source project, but difficult in extreme to make a project successful. "Successful" is a subjective term, of course. I consider an open source project successful if it has a healthy developer community and significant user base amongst its target audience. The real test, I believe, will be the next election cycle. It would be nice to see CivicSpace taken up by other political candidates and taken further, perhaps to become a standard platform to be used by Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians and any other parties vying for office.
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