Beyound “Oracle buying Sun” … Into the “Open Source Governement”

April 21, 2009

Oracle to buy Sun Microsystems is the news getting lot of attention tonight. This is a big news in the industry as once upon a time both were poster boys of the internet boom. A lot is being written and speculated about the impact of this development. A real picture would emerge only after the dust is settled and more is known as to how Oracle deals with hardware, MySQL, middleware and Solaris. This deal has a potential to bring fundamental change in the IT industry landscape depending upon how Oracle approaches it.

While this is happening, I found the article ” An Open Source Government” even more interesting. This article is written by Jim Whitehurst of Red Hat Inc. where I work. The most interesting part that I liked is :

When information is open and individuals have the means to contribute, everyone shares in the responsibility for improvement. Informed citizens become engaged citizens. Engaged citizens contribute opinions, ideas and effort.

and

We must build the structure and culture for participation, from the highest levels of government to municipal town halls. We need to unlock the doors that stand between citizens and information. Both infrastructure and information must be open and easily accessible to all.

I found it to be very important attempt to connect the Governance, Government and Citizen through the principles of open source.

The participation by the citizens is so important to shape the nation that we want. As I am following the elections in the largest democracy of the world – India, I keep wondering how and why would more than 60% of eligible people would come out for voting.

Making people interested in participation, making it easy for them to participate and then making it affordable for the government to reach out to the citizen is a tremendous task.

Use of open source can help governments to find a way to address the last part at least, which will be a big leap. This would need a good leadership at the highest level. Hope the elections in India would bring a change for betterment.

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Side effect of Trust – efficiency

April 18, 2009

Travelling on a subway/ local trains in Singapore, Hong Kong, Kolkatta, Delhi, Bejing the most common thing that you take for granted is the entry point/ checkpoint automatic doors. They come in different forms – “snap” doors or “lever” doors. Your instinct tells you to tap your pass or push the ticket through, door will open and you go through to the other side. This is the standard operating procedure at almost every subway station and every country I have visited.

Now imagine the contrast. You tap your ticket or pass on the ticket checking point and you look for door to open – either “snap” sound or the levers to push. But there is no door. It it a wide open “Pass through”. This is Tokyo.

You know what. I thought I was busy in tapping the ticket and hence might not have noticed opening of the door. And hence I moved passed the doors and looked back to check if the doors are snapping back to close. But no such thing. I was zapped. Being in a hurry I went and boarded the train. While coming out of the station I decided to keep a closer watch on the doors. Again I realised the doors were open all the time.

I was waiting for the opportunity to know it better and I got it on 3rd day. My pass had run out of money and I tapped the pass on the entrance of the door. It beeped, flashed red light and doors closed. Oh..so there were doors. And in the instance I understood the logic.

The doors are open all the time and they close only when something goes wrong.

Wow.. I liked the logic, made for efficiency. Faster movement of people in the given time.

While I was admiring this efficient mechanism, I wondered why other cities have not implemented such logic. And that is when I felt that this mechanism or logic is not just the efficiency consideration. I felt that it reflects the social mindset as well. To me “keeping the gates open all time time, till some problem” is reflection of “trust” based society. Can you trust your citizens and design the systems just to stop the offenders? In most places we find the systems are designed keeping in mind that the people are going to cheat and checks are implemented accordingly.

Here in Tokyo I found that the system was ready to trust the people. Probably the society was trustworthy. This has helped to create so much efficiency. Trust has so many benefits.

My respect for that society grew multifold.


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