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Gillmor on Open Source and the Developing World
Alex Steffen, 2 Oct 03

In a tidy and sharp little column, Dan Gillmor lays out an essential truth - open source software is "a no-brainer for developing world":

"In Africa, in Asia, in much of the world -- especially in the developing nations -- open source is looking like the best way to usher in the information age.

"Around the globe, educators, companies and governments are getting tired of paying the Microsoft tax, which tends to rise inexorably, and sending the money to America. They don't like the upgrade cycle, especially when older computers run Linux just fine. They want to inspire more software innovation at home, and suspect Linux may be the best platform in a world where Microsoft also takes most of the profits in Windows application software.

"With open source software -- sometimes called "free software" -- the source code, or programming instructions, is open for free downloading, inspection and modification by anyone...."

Most people who take the time to think through this issue will come to the same conclusion, that open source software and the world's poorer countries are a natural fit, but this is a nice articulation of the argument from one of the tech industry's big brain journos. For the other side of this debate as it's playing out in South Africa, check out Bridges.org.

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