[Fsf-friends] Re: [??.??.??.?] Red Hat signs MoU with Kerala govt

Sandip Bhattacharya sandip@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Mon Jun 11 14:50:10 IST 2007

V. Sasi Kumar wrote:
> Actually, it is the prevailing wisdom that is the culprit. The
> prevailing wisdom says that unless there is a commercial entity, things
> won't work properly. This is a result of another piece of prevaiing
> wisdom that people will not do anything without a profit motive. We have
> demolished the idea that creativity will not flourish without monetary
> incentive -- worse, that creativity will not flourish whithout
> exclusionary rights, without monopoly. Prof. Patnaik theoretically
> showed this to be false in his speech at the seminar in
> Thiruvananthapuram on 6th and Prof. Eben Moglen showed how this is false
> in real life. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who believe this
> to be true, including some people who themselves may not act
> accordingly. The adoption of Free Software in IT at School could have
> happened much earlier but for the belief that a commercial entity is
> needed for support.

The article mentioned the MoU covering not just "e-education" but also
"e-governance"(I hate using e- in front of any word, but here I am simply
copying what was there in the article).

Strictly speaking, support is not about creativity. Yes, sometimes it might
involve a bit of creativity in solving certain problems, but mostly the problems
are common and repetitive. So, while I am not disputing that "creativity can flourish
without commercial incentive", I feel that is somewhat of an irrelevant point in 
this discussion, and any further discussion on that lines would only take us away
from my question here i.e. How can we ensure non-commercial, timely and reliable 
support to organizations moving to FOSS solutions?

My experience with users groups however points to the fact that LUGs are not 
always suitable for providing a support environment to organizations - 
 * LUGs hate repetitive questions
 * LUGs do not guarantee that a problem would be solved in a certain amount of time
 * LUGS do not guarantee that someone would actually go ahead and do the 
   required amount of research to solve a previously un-encountered 
 * many LUGs are filled with people who have a certain way of 
   interactions with newcomers in a way that is quite different from similar
   interactions in a professional environment.

All of these are important for organisations moving to FOSS. And yes, they hold
for government institutions too.

Please do not misunderstand me when I say this, but I personally do not think
that requirement for FOSS support in the education field is not as demanding
(in terms of the "time" factor) as in other organisations. So while a certain
level of community support might seem adequate for the education field, it might not
be good enough for other institutions.

I admit that I have not followed the contributions of FSF towards IT at School 
at all, and so I am interested in knowing that model further. From what I have learned
that there is a training mechanism in place for teachers here. But, since
training is almost completely different from day-to-day support, what is the mechanism
in place to support teachers when they need it. What is the level of support promised
to them by this project?

- Sandip

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