In recent years, open source1 software has developed as a novel form of collaborative production. Relative to its origin as a collaboration between individual non-professionals, it has seen tremendous success, both in terms of the commercial and technical strengths of the produced software itself, but also as a model of organisation: open source software is arguably one of the best examples of adaptive self-organising, collaborative networked organisations that exists today. Indeed, this success has been enough for open source to be considered as a useful alternative for e-government applications, in particular within this Strategic Objective of the IST work-programme. However, several gaps remain in our understanding of the functioning and purposes of open source software. The FLOSS project (funded by IST/FP5) resulted in the single largest knowledge base on open source usage and development worldwide. The proposed support action builds on the FLOSS project to fill in important gaps in the understanding of open source, thus supporting the objectives of the work-programme and maintaining the EU�s lead in this domain.
FLOSS-POLS will work on three specific tracks:
- government policy towards open source; gender issues in open source; and the efficiency of open source as a system for collaborative problem-solving. All areas will have a focus on studying the impact of policy and providing policy recommendations. The first track comprises three survey-based studies: on interoperability; user needs in open source e-government; and open source as a skills development environment especially important for SMEs.
- The second track will be the world�s first comprehensive study of gender issues in open source � where women are hugely under-represented; based on ethnographic study, it will result in concrete policy recommendations.
- The third track will study open source as a productive networked organization through simulation models of collaborative (information-sharing) and selfish (information-selling) agents. Overall, there is a strong emphasis on feedback to and from the user (government) community, through a series of topical workshops as well as supporting the organization of a major conference on open standards and open source in e-government.
University of Maastricht - MERIT (coordinator);
University of Cambridge - Department of Social Anthropology;
Eurocities - Telecities