Dear Markus, Frank, and all

I will try to dwell a bit further on some
issues raised by Frank and Markus. Sorry
for the long message. Certain issues deserve it...

Message from Frank Warmerdam
Comments from Gilberto

(...)  But, I am left with the impression that the same model applied
widely by many national or state governments would result in a lot of
duplication.  I'd like to explore models where governments at
different levels cooperate and contribute to joint development.

Good point. Governments have a propensity to fund local
development, since they are creating jobs. The risk, as you
point out, is duplication. To avoid this trend, we need
a coordination board at the international level, that
can assure national governments that their
interests are taken into account.

The ideal would be a UN-supported effort. However, developed
nations have blocked attempts for United Nations agencies to
coordinate widespread adoption of FOSS
(e.g., at the World Summit on the Information Society).

Currently, OSGEO and OSC play an important international role.
OSGEO allows us to connect (as we´re doing right now).
OSC gives users hope of avoiding the lock-in effect and thus
reduces some of the FUD effect. But we should recognize that
national government institutions are not present at either

Thus, I´m hoping that GSDI might be able to increase its
role as a place where FOSS can be promoted and presented
to an international audience. GSDI´s president, Harlan
Onsrud, is extremely serious, open-minded and supportive of FOSS.
I will be at GSDI 2008 at Trindad and promise to give you
a report from the trenches.

...Perhaps due to the relentless propaganda of the "anti government
right" in North America, I have some concerns about governments
throwing large amounts of money into FOSS development without clear
thinking about how to make that money work efficiently.  It is easy
to imagine boondoggles that could suck up lots of money with little
in the way of useful products.

Relax... Lord Keynes, Roosevelt´s New Deal, the Marshall Plan,
NASA´s Apollo Program and other examples show that efficiency
is not a prerequisite for successful use of public money.

Efficient use of public money is not about achieving feasible
products in the most cost-effective way. It is about achieving
goals that would be impossible for the private sector.
Putting a man on the moon, developing health care solutions for
the poor, and saving the planet from disastrous climate change
are tasks for governments. They cannot be measured by how much
money you put into them, but by their results.

Message from Markus Lupp
> Responses by Gilberto

> (Markus)
I would like to give some comments on this from the perspective of a
GIS company with an Open Source business model.
> (...) Now to the question of government intervention.
> After reading Gilberto's mail I asked myself what is
meant by this term?
> (...) In Germany  (...)there is a growing support
from people in governmental agencies who decided by themselves that
they want to use more open source software
> (Gilberto - is this what you mean by indirect support?).

Government intervention can be direct or indirect.
In the first case, public funds directly support FOSS4G
projects (as in the case of gvSIG).
In the second, there is a consensus that it is in
the public interest to consider FOSS as a serious alternative
to proprietary software and thus public managers are
not afraid of FUD tactics (as it happens in Europe currently).

Europe is taking FOSS very seriously. For those who haven´t seen
it yet, take a look at the EC´s Open Source Observatory
This is a very good example of indirect support for FOSS.

> (Markus)
So from my point of view it is possible to compete in the GIS market using an open source business model without any high-level government intervention (although it surely helps)

I respectfully disagree. I doubt you could achieve the same
success in the USA, where there is no active public policy
in support of FOSS. I stand by my earlier assessment that
successful long-term FOSS needs government support (direct
or indirect).


Dr.Gilberto Camara
Director General
National Institute for Space Research (INPE)
Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil

voice: +55-12-3945-6035
fax:   +55-12-3921-6455
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