You need more then one wheel for the bandwagon to start rolling


This is an English summary of my Latvian rant about the activities (or lack thereof) of the Latvian Open Source Association (LAKA) in my other blog. Before someone misunderstands, I am the chairman of the LAKA's board, so this is not a plain ranting, but more of a plan pondering for future action.
For two years after the formation of LAKA we have quite little real work done - a few installfests, a visit by RMS and a MySQL executive, some work in the translation field, a little representation in the swpat issue, lots of flaming about site and logo design. That about sums up two years of a whole associations work. I must say that this is pretty crappy. Many good ideas remained just that - ideas, many needed projects (OOO translation, statistics for FLOSS use, .gov lobbying) just never started like they should. Also almost no business was interested in actually making something viable in the FLOSS sector, mostly because they so no viable business model.
It took me quite some time to understand why this was happening, but I think that I finally got it - there is noone to profit from it. And those who could profit from it, do not know about it.
I took a look back at us. Most of LAKA are system administrators and students. Why these people are interested in promoting FLOSS? Economies of scale gives them better software once more people start using it. Also students are interested in wider adoption because it makes their skills more profitable in the marketplace.
This would give them incencitive to create installfests, make some technical events, do some translation in the free time, but you would need a different type of motivation to make something more important, like actively lobby government, organize conferences for 150-200 CEOs of local SMEs, drive around the country organizing Infoday's, seminars, educational sessions, create and test business strategies, create a new market and bind several million EUR of investments.
Sysadmins and students are not interested in such activities, but the question is who is? According to the free software project management paradigm ("Scratch your own itch") the ones most interested in these events are the ones to make them happen.
The most obvious candidates for this role are the big international companies that are actively supporting the FLOSS movement and are making quite a buck from it. IBM, Novel, Sun, HP, Oracle and many others might be interested to invest some funds to create a whole new multimillion market.
This was the basis for the project I named LAKA2. At this point in time, two discussions are taking place - one in IBM and Novel and one in LAKA, both are trying to make this idea better and more suited for both sides and for the society as a whole.
Stay tuned, I hope something good will eventually emerge from this.

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