NGOs and Open Source

In the for-profit sector the key areas are cost, features, and politics, and cost reigns supreme. In the non-profit sector, this is reduced to features and politics, but if the sector works hard to reduce counter-productive politics, non-profit endeavors can come as close to approaching a meritocracy as the business world does.

Open Source software development has much to contribute to the process of knowledge brokering in the non-profit community. When success is measured by lives saved and children educated rather than market-share and position relative to competitors, organizations should make their processes public knowledge.

I think of international relief and development as the cutting edge of human endeavors, and I spend so much time in the high-tech world that I sometimes forget that the foundational assumptions and ideals that guide many of these organizations predate the Internet. Have they heard of Request for Comments?

Perhaps the forces that came together to make the internet the open, interoperable network that we know today was a once-in-a-lifetime event, but I want to make that happen in the NGO sector, whether it looks like the RFC process, or something totally different.

- Josh Penman, last modified 2010-09-26 2322h

Update 2013-03-11 23:52:18: I think my contention that non-profits don't include "cost" as a key area was naive. :)

See also:

My spine tingles just reading about this:) "The inception of the RFC format occurred in 1969 as part of the seminal ARPANET project.[1]" - It's legendary! :)


Success is measured by inclusion of your models and practices in other organizations.

... should only be in competition when multiple services are available.

Speaking of open source. . .

Open ModelSphere allows graphical visualization of your relational database's architecture, thus making modifications easy.