Open Source for Britain?


Here's some news from across the pond:

Today, a broad cross-section of more than 70 companies, academic institutions, communities, related groups and individuals joined together to announce the formation of Open Source for America, an organization that will serve as a unified voice for the promotion of open source software in the U.S. Federal Government arena. To register or learn more about the coalition, visit

The mission of Open Source for America is to serve as a centralized advocate and to encourage broader U.S. Federal Government support of and participation in free and open source software. Specifically, Open Source for America will: help effect change in policies and practices to allow the Federal Government to better utilize these technologies; help coordinate these communities to collaborate with the federal government on technology requirements; and raise awareness and create understanding among federal government leaders about the values and implications of open source software.

Aside from the rather cringe-worthy name, this sounds like a sensible idea: too often open source advocates have acted in a piecemeal and haphazard fashion. Creating a coalition like this to present a united front is likely to impress government departments rather more than individual companies could alone. And it's an impressive line-up, with most of the big names (but no IBM, which is curious).

The question is, should something similar be done in the UK?

There's no doubt that the state of open source in government is even more parlous here than in the US, and so the need for such an organisation is even more pressing. But I wonder whether there's quite the critical mass here: are there enough companies basing their business around open source to fund such an organisation? And, even more critically, could they come up with a better name than Open Source for Britain?

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