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Open Source & Dutch Politics

26/07/2009 12:52

No, this isn't about the Dutch government and their efforts to promote Open Source & Open Standards, but during the trip back home from our holiday destination the following analogy occurred to me. In the Netherlands, we have a very fragmented multi-party political system. This means that after each election, a coalition needs to be formed because it's impossible for a single party to get a majority of the votes. In that sense, our political system is a bit different from the one in e.g. the US or the UK. Anyway, what we have over here is not only the right to vote, but also the right to form a new political party, take part in elections and the right to be elected. And that's where my analogy begins.

 

First of all, it's about freedom of choice: I can pick any party to support (or any piece of software I want to use) without any restrictions. And if I don't like what 'my' party is doing, I can easily switch to another one. No strings attached! I can also decide to get more involved by becoming a party member and attend the meetings they organize. Translated to the open source world: join a community and interact with other users and developers. An even deeper involvement would mean that I take on more responsibilities by setting up meetings, interest other people in my party and thus help my party grow. This is much like becoming an active member in a forum, help people out or write about the products you like. Finally, you can get elected, either in the party board, the municipal or provincial government or even in the countries parliament. Now you can really influence the direction of not only the party itself, but also of the town or country you're representing. In my analogy, this would translate into becoming an active developer and code committer, where the best and brightest also influence the direction of the industry in general.

 

There's more: what about 'forking'? In the open source world, if you're not happy with the direction a product (or company) is taking, you can fork the code and start building your own product based on what's available. We've seen this many times already, for instance with MySQL and Drizzle (database), Compiere and Adempiere (ERP) and very recently with Nagios and Icinga (system monitoring & management). In the Dutch political system this is quite common too: when Geert Wilders was becoming more and more discontent with the ideas of his party the VVD (and vice versa!), he decided to start his own PVV party. I won't go into the discussion whether the outcomes of these 'forks' are either good or bad, fact is that ultimately the market/voters decide who wins. I also think that the freedom both the companies/parties and the users/voters have in this whole process is a precious thing to keep!

 

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Topic: Open Source & Dutch Politics

Date: 26/07/2009

By: Roland Bouman

Subject: Nice Analogy

Hi!

this is a pretty good analogy IMO :)

Well done!

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