|FROM ||Dave Williams
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] Re: Issues
Good idea. I'll post this to hangout. Hopefully others will have some
thoughts on how to break through any cultural problems with the schools.
By the way, I did call last night when I got in. I can prove it: You
have a twenty second answering machine message.
On Thu, 2003-04-24 at 16:03, Ruben I Safir wrote:
> Send this to hangout?
> I'm glad you back. I was getting bored. Call me.
> On 2003.04.24 15:57 Dave Williams wrote:
> > Hi Marco -
> > After doing a little research I came across several discussions
> > regarding Free Software in schools and governments. One item that I
> > find useful is someone's short list of reasons FS/OSS should be used:
> > "1. Good chance at finding a cheaper solution for the initial
> > implementation.
> > 2. Good chance at finding a more secure solution.
> > 3. The solution would be maintainable, and free to upgrade to meet
> > future technologies.
> > 4. No source code is hidden from you.
> > 5. If they decide not to use an evaluated OSS solution then the
> > resulting report could greatly benefit that OSS project's future.
> > 6. If an OSS solution is decided on, it will bring that OSS project
> > further into the public for others to consider using.
> > 7. The more OSS solutions that organizations are aware of and implement,
> > the more organizations that will be aware of and implement them as a
> > compounding result.
> > 8. Future change: If something is free, you aren't held back from
> > changing because of all the money you already dumped into it. And you
> > most likely wouldn't get involved in a platform that was designed to
> > lock you into it with no escape (Microsoft), so you'd have a better
> > chance at changing in the future as well.
> > 9. Opaqueness of data, which is a much more important issue."
> > A couple of interesting threads describe why schools aren't interested
> > in such ventures. For example:
> > "They don't think anything is good if you can't pay for it.
> > "The problem with OSS as far as government/schools are concerned is that
> > when you have a company that makes the software, hardware, buildings,
> > etc., you have somebody a) at the other end of the phone line and b)
> > someone to sue. If you don't think that is important, you're mistaken.
> > Governments and schools do not want to be accountable. These people want
> > to be able to blame someone for something. They don't want the
> > responsibility. With OSS, even say Red Hat or SuSE, are you gonna sue
> > them or call them when something goes wrong? Yes, I know you get support
> > contracts. But it ain't the same.
> > "Using OSS requires taking risks. These people won't do it. It is so
> > much easier to 'just use Microsoft'. You can't be faulted for making a
> > 'bad decision'. But if you choose to go with OSS and it has even 1/10
> > the problems of Microsoft's 'solutions' you get your ass fried. Please
> > remember some of the problems with public procurement:
> > 1) If you get $100 and spend $105 you demonstrated a need.
> > 2) If you get $100 and spend $85 next year you get $75, since you don't
> > need it, and the schmuck who overspent gets your chunk.
> > 3) It isn't you're money, so you don't care.
> > 4) Typically your purchasing decisions will reflect upon your
> > higher-ups, whose recommendations you need to advance.
> > 5) Cheaper is better most of the time. If you get 20 of item A for $100
> > and 25 of item B for $100 then B is the better choice. But if you get 30
> > OSS items for $0, see rule #1.
> > "My father spent thirty years selling, and schools and governments were
> > among his clients. They were notorious for doing this: They'd see his
> > competitors crap, buy it, and when it broke, he'd sell them a better
> > system. So the purchasing agent got to 1) buy more for less, 2) blame a
> > company for product problems, 3) get credit for solving the problem, and
> > 4) get a bigger budget next year.
> > "You think I'm full of shit? How I wish I was. If you have never spent
> > any time in schools (I have) or government, you are missing quite a
> > learning experience. It is no surprise that OSS is not widely adopted in
> > public service."
> > Another more obvious point follows:
> > "I am a teacher, and I think I can give you some insight. Software
> > companies see schools and students like drug dealers do. They will damn
> > near give away their software because if you get 'hooked' on their
> > stuff, when you leave you only know their software. At the district
> > level people only see the supposed great deal they get. In our district
> > some of the technidiots have gone to Microsoft seminars and come home
> > with all sorts of freebies. It's like freaking Halloween! They are not
> > going to be the ones that suggest OSS when they lose their sugar daddy.
> > Most school tech people are bottom of the barrel. For instance I run
> > Linux in my classroom, and the technidiots can't figure out how I can
> > access the Internet or my Novell network shares from Linux, since
> > 'Novell doesn't support Linux'. Districts can't pay going wages, so they
> > get those least able to find jobs in the private sector.
> > "Something else, too: They just don't know Linux and don't want to. They
> > have no need to save the district money nor do they have any need or
> > desire to improve their skills. School district jobs are permanent jobs.
> > They don't want to rock the boat. If the district dared move to Linux
> > they'd be out of work or would have to retool their skills. They want
> > neither. I could go on with endless stories but I won't bore you. Keep
> > up the fight, and take it to your school board. Here's what you do: Find
> > just one area that OSS can do more for less. It shouldn't be too hard.
> > Present it to the school board. They have their meetings open to the
> > public. These people are elected. They care about votes. If they can say
> > they saved money and improved __________ (fill in the blank) let them
> > get the credit and you'll be more successful. For instance, give them
> > examples where this "Linux thing" has been adopted by companies, to show
> > that it is a viable, powerful, etc., solution."
> > I don't know how applicable these impressions are to the Concord system,
> > but any proposal we put together should probably address whichever
> > concerns we think are most likely to be involved.
> > Having met to decide that we need proposals is useful, but suffers from
> > the same problem all meetings have: It's useful for larger plans but not
> > very good at determining specifics. I would find it helpful if we could
> > get some feedback going on that might hone in on precise strategies.
> > That way the document could go from being a generic business proposal
> > written in empty corporate buzzwords to something specific that would be
> > ridiculous to reject.
> > I know things have been busy for you recently, but any thoughts would be
> > appreciated.
> > - Dave
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