Linux in Aussie school

I saw this in the news and loved the quote:

“School education should be about cooperation and sharing knowledge, which is exactly what open source is about – that’s why I can’t understand why schools don’t embrace it on that level,” he said, adding there is a “big black hole” when it comes to Linux in education.

Rock on for FOSS in education!

I’ve also been flat out with last minute things for Linuxworld next week. The event is going to be fantastic for business and Governments understanding FOSS, I am looking forward to meeting a bunch of people speaking, including Peter Quinn (ex-CIO of Massachusetts Government), Sunil Abraham (IOSN), Yusseri Yusoff (Malaysian Government), and Martin Fink (HP). Of course it’ll also be great to see Maddog and Bdale there 🙂

Peter Quinn – in Australia!

I met Peter Quinn in Spain on a FOSS around the world panel, Peter as most of you would know is the force behind the adoption of an Open Standards policy and Open Source take-up in the Massachusetts Government. He left the job after unexpectedly finding himself the target of anti-FOSS FUD, but the Open Standards/Source approach of Massachusetts has prevailed and Peter himself is very FOSS saavy and a great speaker.

Anyway, I managed to twist his arm into coming to Australia and speaking at Linuxworld at Government Day (the last day of the conference, the 30th March). I’m really excited about this as his rationale behind why FOSS is relevant to Government is very useful to our Government. I hope to see a huge increase in awareness of and adoption of FOSS after Linuxworld. We also have representatives from the Malaysian and New Zealand Governments as well as a bunch of Aussie Government agencies.

SLUG: moving from geeks to mainstream

Currently nominations are on for the Sydney LUG and I nominated a a guy called Jamie Honan, who is a prior president of SLUG, all round great guy, and a very sane backboard for bouncing around ideas. He is also very softly spoken, and thoughtful. Anyway, unfortunately he declined, but he had these wise words which I think are relevant for LUGs all around the country:

People may wish to think a bit about the future of SLUG. For many years, out of neccessity, we have been a ‘geek’ group. Users of Linux were also like that. Linux is now mainstream, and I believe is poised to take prominence in the desktop.

This prominence presents its own challenges. While Linux becomes ever more ubiquitious, it is ever more easy to ignore the ideas and ideals that drove the formation of Linux. Now, millions of web surfers have the benefit of Linux and know nothing of the fears, the dreams that drove its inception.

How do we cross that divide? How do we reach out to the new users of Linux and show them that they too can become connected. That to give, a small gift only please; a bug report, show a friend how it’s done, is to join in and become part of something much larger.

The challenge for us in SLUG is to reach out, beyond our comfort zone. To try to connect with people who don’t share our technology biases and starting points, to make not so much the technology accessable, but to make our humanity, our ideals and ideas accessable.

Can I make one small suggestion? We have to listen first.

Sometimes in the excitement in getting our ideas across we lose touch with our audience. Sometimes they are trying to tell us what they need, what their problems are, and we don’t listen. Think about it

I strongly agree, and I think LUGs are going to remain important in the future both as a place of technical expertise and for ideas to flow, but also as a place where the underlying values of FOSS remain strong. Some people see LUGs getting less relevant as FOSS hits the mainstream, I see them becoming more relevant. People will be picking up the technology but still disconnected from it and the community, but LUGs provide the grounding to both technical creativity and community values that have made FOSS what it is today. We teach and practise the importance of software and information freedom that sometimes is either taken for granted or forgetten about.

Waugh Partners… what is it good for? :)

So the new consulting business Waugh Partners is going well. I’ve nabbed my first few consulting jobs, and I’m making a name for myself as a consultant. I thought long and hard about my skills and what is needed in Australia, and I realised that vendor-neutral strategic consulting is what people really need in order to go from ad-hoc FOSS jobs to a planned approach to FOSS for their businesses. For example, understanding how to skill up, how to find commercially viable versus non-commercially viable software, where to get support, how to modify existing policies to be FOSS friendly, such as procurement policies, and finally how to understand the wide world of FOSS and how it can benefit businesses and Government alike. I look forward to helping grow the industry generally, and in particular helping all the little FOSS companies become more competitive and knowledgable about what they need to compete in the large corporate and Government arenas.

One of my main aims is to get Australia being more globally competitive in ICT and to also start using FOSS to solve the technical, business/economic _and_ the social challenges of this country, but baby steps at a time 🙂

I am seriously looking forward to Linuxworld as I think it’ll help me achieve my business and personal goals, and I am so happy that we are finally starting to realise the broader benefits of FOSS in my own country.

Rock on Australia! 😀

Geek girls on the way!

So over the last few days I have presented about the wide world of IT and in particular FOSS to about 1200 out of ~2400 young women at school. The event was called Go girl, go for IT which admittedly is a bit of a silly name, but the event itself was incredible. Loads of great speakers, heaps of very smart, confident and rocking young women, prizes, a beautiful Ducati motorbike (for show only 🙁 ) and much more. I think some stats out of this will be great and very interesting.

Every one of these attendees took home a copy of The Open CD, kindly donated by Kevin Russell from Opensource WA which is a great Government project with a demo centre of loads of FOSS as well as doing mini-projects like buses kitted out with computers to help people in rural and remote WA. Every one of these women learnt something about FOSS and why we have all been drawn to the penguin, and hopefully more of them will participate in FOSS andfind out for themselves how wonderful and diverse a world it is 🙂

Rock on geek girls, and welcome to the community!