Open Source Community
May 8, 2008
The Boy Scouts of America Open Source Initiative
This is my personal letter to the Open Source Community. The comments in this letter are my own and are presented here with my permission and full endorsement.
In November 2007 I was commissioned by the Boy Scouts of America to assist them in their Open Source Initiative. Among the challenges facing the the Boy Scouts, and non-profit organizations in general, is the unique nature of their software needs. Commercial vendors do not view the non-profit sector as a significant market so options are severely limited. The cost of customized software to meet the needs of users who fall outside of the markets served by larger vendors can be prohibitive to any organization, especially for non-profit organizations.
The goal of the Boy Scouts Open Source Initiative is to enhance the efficiency of managing scouting activities while reducing the costs to local organizations. To meet this goal, the plan that I presented to the Boy Scouts was to build a full service Open Source Software Website that would serve a wide variety of the community's needs. My recommendation was to make the website a resource targeting the broader community that includes other organizations and users who have similar needs.
In the spirit of a true Open Source Initiative the Boy Scouts OSS Website is open to the Internet community as a whole. Many aspects of the software needs faced by scouting organizers and managers overlap with the needs of most non-profit organizations. This is an OSI that benefits a wide reaching community, like Open Source is meant to do. The Boy Scouts OSI serves a community of users and volunteers working together to solve common problems, and to share in the results.
To achieve the goals set forth by the OSI Project in the most timely manner, and in the most cost effective way, the OSS Website itself is an Open Source Project. In my opinion, the Boy Scouts OSI embodies the message that we as advocates of Open Source have attempted to deliver for years. The Boy Scouts OSI is a commitment to the community, for the benefit of the community. As a fellow OSS advocate, I challenge the Open Source Community to take this golden opportunity and stand behind our message. As far as I know, this is the first OSI of its kind. This OSI was initiated by an organization outside of the Open Source Community, does not promote a commercial endeavor, is not limited to a single product, and targets users. OSS has made tremendous progress and made an impact in the server environment, system level tools, and some commercial alternatives. This is an opportunity for us to prove that OSS can benefit an organization outside of the data center.
OSI Project Manager http://opensource.scouting.org/ossletter.shtml