Open Source Advocacy: from hecklers to lobbyists

Dana Blankenhorn says “open source need lobbyists” (actually he didn’t mention free software hecklers). He observes that we need money to hire them because otherwise the law will always be in favor of the proprietary folks.

In Europe we faced (and we keep facing) very talented lobbyists working hard on a controversial political issue regarding software patents. As you might know patentability of computer-implemented inventions is not legal here yet, the reason for this is simple resumed by Florian Mueller in his “no lobbyist as such” (a must read):

After spending million of dollars,euros and pounds, company like IBM, Microsoft, Siemens and Nokia did not get their way. They were beaten over at their own game – a game called lobbying – by our group of mostly young people, sparsely funded, and formally untrained “freedom fighters” who staged a spirited resistance. Many of us seemed utterly unlike traditional lobbyists and yet we proved effective in the political arena.

Florian MuellerFlorian Mueller by duncandavidson

James McGovern answered back saying that Dana, and not only him, is part of the problem:

Maybe what he is asking for is to get some other body to spend lots of advertising dollars while not acknowledging that open source doesn’t really need traditional media to be successful.

Throughout his column he always talks about open source but never seems to segment thoughts on commercial open source such as Alfresco, Intalio, MySQL, etc from non-commercial open source such as Apache. Why not ask the question of media and its ability to simply be charitable in terms of advertising space?

I am not sure we need any charity, not even for open source projects that are not driven by a corporate actor or are under a big enough “umbrella”. Appropriating returns from Commons is critical indeed, that’s why we see many good open source projects with no advertising coverage, but people like Matt Asay, Matthew Aslett, Alex Fletcher, James Governor, Savio Rodrigues, Raven Zachary and of course James McGovern himself are already making the difference.

What about federating? Here I am dreaming about a sort of Gawker for Open Source..

Technorati Tags: Open Source, Commercial Open Source, software patent, gawker

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