Government's role in open source

While the general public may just pirate software and movies, government must be more circumspect.

South Africa

In the developing world much of the open source excitement is driven by government.

Brazil's efforts in this area are well-known. While the general public may just pirate software and movies, government must be more circumspect.  The Brazilian government figures it can save $500 per worker by switching to open source, and is thinking of making the switch mandatory.

This has caused big moves in the private sector. Look at the Zope Web site, for instance, and you'll find a grand training tour  being undertaken this fall in Brazil by a local company. That's a lot of knowledge, and more on the way.

The point today is other countries are seeing this success and starting to emulate it.

Take South Africa, for instance. The State Information Technology Agency estimates it has 300,000 computers, and can save billions of rand in making the switch to open source. 

Yes there are training costs to consider, but remember that in the developing world, people cost less relative to stuff than is the case here. And once people are trained in open source, they can start to innovate in open source.

Software is stuff, and that's what is driving change. But what will really change the world is when the people using that stuff create innovations that they can share with us.

Because in open source, our stuff may be your stuff, but your stuff is also our stuff.