Back to the Future: 2020 Roadmap Updated


Last December, I wrote about the 2020 Roadmap, which came out of the Open World Forum in Paris. Rather gamely, the people behind this have produced an updated version. That's brave because there's always the possibility that they would have to admit to being totally wrong. As it is, this is what they say:

Contributors to the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap estimate that their projections are still relevant. The technological trends envisioned - including the use of FLOSS for virtualization, micro-blogging and social networking - have been confirmed. Contributors consider that their predictions about Cloud Computing may have to be revised, due to accelerating adoption of the concepts by the market. The number of mature FLOSS projects addressing all technological and organizational aspects of Cloud Computing is confirming the importance of FLOSS in this area. Actually, the future of true Open Clouds will mainly depend on convergence towards a common definition of 'openness' and 'open services'.

It also notes some “contradictory evolutions”:

While significant progress was observed in line with 2020 FLOSS Roadmap, the 2009 Synthesis highlights contradictory evolutions: the penetration of FLOSS continues, but at political level there is still some blocking. In spite of recognition from 'intellectuals'. the alliance between security and proprietary has been reinforced, and has delayed the evolution of lawful environments. In terms of public policies, progress is variable. Except in Brazil, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, who have made notable moves, no other major stimulus for FLOSS has appeared on the radar. The 2009 Synthesis is questioning why governments are still reluctant to adopt a more voluntary 'FLOSS attitude'. Because FLOSS supports new concepts of 'society' and supports the links between technology and solidarity, it should be taken into account in public policies.

I think that's a little too generous to the UK government, which hasn't really *made* notable moves, just vaguely talked about it (as usual).

Although the whole report is well-worth reading, especially as a review of the year in free software, for me the most important aspect is the following tiny new recommendation:

Acknowledge the intrinsic value of FLOSS infrastructure for essential applications as a public knowledge asset (or 'as knowledge commons'), and consider new means to ensure its sustainable development

I think the sooner it becomes generally recognised that free software is a digital knowledge commons – one of many that are being created through open collaboration – the more people's attitudes to it will change, and the more impact it will have. It is no coincidence that one of the people awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Economics, was Elinor Ostrom, “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. I look forward to reading next year's 2020 roadmap, in the hope that it might explore more deeply this important concept.

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