Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Free Highways : 20th Century as ...

Cheap cars and free highways transformed America in the 20th Century. $100 laptops and free wi-fi broadband can do the same thing for the 21st Century.

It is a simple analogy ...

Free highways : 20th Century as Free Wi-Fi : 21st Century.

The Internet is our new national highway, or it should be. Like the original highway system, it is fundamental to both our national economic and security future. There will be a direct correlation between levels of broadband penetration and a nation's capacity for innovation and growth rates. That correlation probably exists already.

It's all about highways. Asphalt highways are about getting from here to there (a far away "there") quickly. Broadband is about the same thing, only you are moving across cyberspace, and moving much faster.

The U.S. -- indeed every government -- should treat broadband Internet access as priority public infrastructure. Investing in building broadband networks is as important today as construction of the national highway system was in the 1940s.

The highway system would not have worked if only most people could drive on it. It would not have worked if a few companies controlled the on ramps, or bundled packages of roads together for a fixed access price. Anything like that would have only one effect: fewer users and less economic activity. It is the same for broadband Internet.

The debate over "net neutrality" is important. But, honestly, it is in some ways a "high class" problem, as FCC Chairman William Kennard notes in his op-ed article in today's NY Times. The bigger debate is whether government should invest in broadband Internet as public infrastructure and a national priority?

Let's face the reality that Lawrence Lessig so perfectly describes ... "U.S. broadband sucks — it is too slow, it is too expensive, and it is too unavailable." His FT piece is here.

Chairman Kennard makes some excellent points, but misses the mark in his final words. As he put it, policymakers should focus on "getting affordable broadband access to those who need it." Actually, we should focus on getting affordable broadband access to EVERYONE.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Government is Own Worst Enemy for Open ICT

Side note: Please take the poll over here!!! -------------->

At last week's GOSCON conference, Andy Stein, CIO for the City of Newport News, Virginia, hightlighted the fact that governments are often their own worst enemies when it comes to openizing their ICT ecosysems.

The traditional procurement system does not work when it comes to open source. Even worse, it prevents innovative public - private technology partnerships and even agency-to-agency collaboration. Policies on open standards, open source and open ICT that are not directly incorporated into procurement rules and practices are destined to fail.

These are points that I make in every conference at which I speak about open technologies. It is also emphasized in the Open ePolicy Group's Roadmap for Open ICT Ecosystems. Governments that want to "openize" their ICT ecosystems and drive innovation need to re-write their procurement rules.

This requires not only ending the practice of naming specific products, vendors and technologies in RFPs. The whole RFP process needs to be altered, or scrapped entirely. Criteria for selection of bids needs to change. Due diligance and contract management need to account for the fact that open source licenses, communities and companies work differently than proprietary vendors.

News Item of Note: Loss of Data by U.S. Agencies is Widespread.