The Digital Divide Network
 
Navigate DDN

Communities

Browse Communities

Featured Communities

Access
Content
Cool Tools
DDN Member Map
Literacy & Learning
The DIGITALDIVIDE List

Articles

Browse Articles

Blogs

Browse Blogs

Miscellaneous

About DDN
Contact Us
Copyright
Help
FAQ

TakingITGlobal

2007 Webby Awards

Organizing With Open Source
Author: Francis Raven, A Sense Of Place Network | September 13th, 2005
Communities: Cool Tools , Economic Development,

The Nonprofit Open Source Initiative (NOSI) was formed in early 2001 by an informal group of non-profit sector technology assistance providers who were interested in the potential of open source software to benefit the organizations they aided. An email interview with NOSI Coordinator John Stanton provided insight into this important project.

What is NOSI's mission?

To bridge the gap between the nonprofit and open source communities. This means helping Non-Profit Organizations (NPO’s) and Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) learn and use Free/Libre and Open Source Software, which we call FLOSS for short. The other part of this mission is to help the FLOSS community learn about the special needs of NPO's and CBO's and identify areas where FLOSS technical expertise can be most useful.

How do you accomplish this mission?

We seek to educate and advocate for the use of FLOSS through our mailing lists, website, publications and community appearances. We recently published “Choosing and Using Open Source Software: A Primer for Nonprofits” (which can be downloaded from the website for free). The primer, made possible through the generous support of IBM, is an easy to understand introduction to FLOSS for non profit and community based organizations. We also host the “Open Source Cyber Café,” which brings a portable computer lab running Linux, a Free operating system, to various community events and conferences around the country. Finally, http://www.nosi.net is an online resource for people and organizations interested in how FLOSS can help non profits.

Why is open source software important?

Free and Open Source Software is important because it can help NPO's and CBO's stop spending valuable resources, which could and should be directed elsewhere, on software. Proprietary software, software produced and marketed with restrictions on its use, is never really owned by the organizations that use it. For example, an NPO generally cannot legally give its workers copies of proprietary software to use at home. Schools cannot send their students home with the software they use at school, and students aren't allowed to copy proprietary software to share with friends. Free and Open Source software renders these kind of concerns a complete non-issue. It's really a very simple and elegant solution to an artificially created problem.

Is it particularly important for nonprofits?

We believe that Free and Open Source Software is important and useful for everybody. We think that nonprofits are no exception to this rule. Free and Open Source Software is a sustainable resource for nonprofit and community based organizations. Moreover, the volunteer ethos that drives the Free Software movement is the same one that propels the nonprofit sector as a whole. We all see a need and seek to serve; we all are devoted to a more just, free and fair society.

How would you begin to evaluate whether or not open source is right for an organization?

A good place to start is with “Choosing and Using Open Source Software: A Primer for Nonprofits”. The primer helps to provide context for making an informed choice. It provides four case studies from real agencies that have made the choice to use Free and Open Source Software. The primer is written with the non-technical user in mind and is short enough to read over lunch.

Why are case studies important for this?

Case studies are important because they help organizations to imagine how the software they are considering might impact them. NPO's may not know much about Free Software but they know a lot about how organizations like themselves make decisions, what kind of problems they have, and what kinds of issues they may need to solve. Case studies can help organizations considering Free and Open Source Technology ask the right kinds of questions.






Related Communities
Economic Development
 

« Return | Top


Creative Commons License
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Headlines
Greenspan Was `Cheerleader for Imprudence,' James Grant Says
شات | Oct 23
Rhee Bypasses Talks, Imposes Dismissal Plan
Washingtonpost.com | Oct 3
Google Invests In Broadband For Poorer Countries
Slashdot | Sep 10
[ more ] [ xml ]
Latest Blog Posts
Read recently published entries from DDN member's blogs. Any DDN member can have their blog listed here, all you have to do is syndicate the RSS in your profile! (we no longer support direct blogging due to being overwhelmed with spambots!)
Home Networks Gain Digital Media Devices
David H. Deans | February 6
Few home network users currently have permanent connections between their Consumer electronics (CE) devices and their home networks. Those that do primarily connect their game console, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.As more connected CE devices become available, In-Stat expects...
Decline in Network Infrastructure Equipment
David H. Deans | February 6
Dell'Oro Group announced that it forecasts the combined worldwide sales for access network infrastructure equipment including Cable, DSL and PON access concentrators will decrease almost 15 percent in 2009 to $4.0 billion.Their latest market study indicates that this decrease is primarily due to...
Cali Lindy Hoppers unite for 24 Hour Cancer Dance-a-Thon
Rik Panganiban | February 6
I love hearing about lindy hoppers using their skills to help a worthy cause.  I got news that a 24 Hour Cancer Dance-a-thon, is happening from March 5-9 in Orange County, California:The Dance-a-thon is a 24 hour swing dance in Orange County, CA. Its mission is to raise funds for cancer...
Virtual LOLcats insulin pumps raise awareness about the dangers of diabetes
Rik Panganiban | February 6
What you see here is a closeup of the virtual insulin pump worn by my dragon avatar in Second Life, courtesy of Noelyci Ingmann.  Hamlet Au just blogged about the pump -- which comes in a "regular" and a "LOLcats" version believe it or not -- so I had to check it out. The...
[ more ] [ xml ]