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OSS Provides Opportunity, Challenge for Developing World 92

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the take-the-plunge dept.
NewsForge has an interesting article looking at open source in the developing world. From the article: " Open source software and development can push governments of developing nations ahead in the world, but only if they participate as producers of the technology themselves, United Nations University (UNU) researchers say. While they say developing regions such as China, East Asia, India, and South America are among the biggest markets for open source software, UNU officials worry that there may be too few open source developers in those regions."
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OSS Provides Opportunity, Challenge for Developing World

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  • by Lewrker (749844)
    I thought OSS was Open Sound System.
  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto@conne[ ].com ['xer' in gap]> on Sunday April 23, 2006 @08:30AM (#15184210) Homepage

    United Nations University (UNU) researchers say. While they say developing regions such as China, East Asia, India, and South America are among the biggest markets for open source software, UNU officials worry that there may be too few open source developers in those regions.

    Also from the article:

    Still, Krishna stresses that limiting prospects to only open source solutions and development may deprive these nations of access to other resources, which might include proprietary solutions, companies, and their money. "A lot of people argue there are more opportunities from proprietary solutions, and they might not get it if they are so open source oriented," he says. "The proper course of action is not to be tied to one or get into any religious wars.

    The way I see it, open source is an opportunity for everyone. This is just as true of small towns and rural places in the USA and Europe as it is for third world countries. Rather than sending off money to Redmond and Silicon Valley, these countries and cities and towns can hire locals to develop the software. If it is an open source product, they will already have a starting point. I think the biggest advantage of open source, which is constantly over looked, is that it basically combines the best of two worlds: commercial-off-the-shelf and custom development.

    Have a problem that can almost be solved by an available commercial app? Tough, it will be close to impossible (unless you are IBM or the U.S. or Eurpean government) to get the developers to change it for you. Have a problem that can almost be solved by an existing oss package? Great bring in some experienced local contractors to modify it to your organization's needs.

    Everybody wins: your organization gets something it may not have gotten before; money stays in the local economy; the community around that product benefits (if changes are contributed back); and so on. The only people who lose are the established software companies, because they now have stiffer competition that is more agile than they are.

    • by Flying pig (925874) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @09:57AM (#15184437)
      At the moment software is frequently a tax that poor countries pay to rich countries to be allowed to participate. Poor countries often have weak currencies, but the local cost of goods and services is much lower than you would expect from the exchange rate. It's like living at the top of an economic inverted gravity well; moving around the local maximum is not too hard, but bringing things in from outside is difficult. Any goods that have to be bought in the West are relatively speaking very expensive. Since the major desktop and server OS is produced in a small corner of the US, this represents a tax on international trade, applied to the Third World and with the proceeds going to Redmond.

      FOSS means that work, whether localisation or support, can be done in the local region at local prices. It therefore levels the playing field, helping to achieve the (supposed) objectives of the WTO. And, in reality, it doesn't reduce Microsoft's profits as much as you might think because, in many cases, the alternative is actually piracy.

      On the other hand, it creates middle class jobs (jobs relying on literacy, professional skills etc.). The biggest problem of many Third World countries is the lack of a middle class. Between the very poor (exploited) and the very rick (exploiters) there is no buffer of people to create a civil society. In China the very concept of civil society is still alien while it has emerged rapidly in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. India has a rapidly increasing middle class and is the world's biggest democracy.

      So, I know this may seem over the top: but FOSS provides support to fair trade, emerging democracy and free markets. And it does it while expending very little energy, so it contributes little to climate change.

      • Don't get confused about Microsoft and piracy. Microsoft *loves* it when its software gets pirated.

        For Microsoft, the best case is that you buy their software. The next best case is that you pirate their software. What they hate to see is when you use someone else's software.

        There is a simple reason for this: Business have money, and business tend to properly licence their software. If Microsoft Office is what everyone knows, then Microsoft Office will be licenced.

        In developing countries, Microsoft is lo

    • "The way I see it, open source is an opportunity for everyone. This is just as true of small towns and rural places in the USA and Europe as it is for third world countries. Rather than sending off money to Redmond and Silicon Valley, these countries and cities and towns can hire locals to develop the software."

      I agree, an opportunity for everybody. But a little reality check/ pragmatism is required. You need to be able to afford to hire enough open source programmers to develop the alternative. Does every
      • Open Source solutions obviously have better extreme-case support properties - in 50 years you'll still be able to hire programmers to fix it because you have the source code, even if Novel (or whoever) got hit by a meteor and all their employees died.

        The more interesting question is smaller scale things like "normal" phone support. This is available for all major Open Source software from a number of different companies at reasonable prices.

        In conclusion, Open Source software is similar to propriatary s

    • Everybody wins: your organization gets something it may not have gotten before; money stays in the local economy; the community around that product benefits (if changes are contributed back); and so on.

      Personally, I don't think the GPL is the answer. This is a mistake that is being replicated all over, due to the FSF world tour advocating the GPL, and the hype that the press creates. That license has only worked in practice for: 1) big hardware companies that really, are selling hardware, not Linux; 2) comp
  • WTF? - FTA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuaintRealist (905302) * <quaintrealist.gmail@com> on Sunday April 23, 2006 @08:32AM (#15184213) Homepage Journal
    Wow. I read

    "That is a mindset that should be discouraged from being advocated."

    And thought I was still not awake. Then I read it again - still didn't make sense. Then I went to the website for Frost & Sullivan to see where they found this bozo...

    "Our partnership services provide you with the innovative solutions to maximize your growth opportunities and dominate your competition. Our methodology is designed to empower you with global perspective in four distinct disciplines: technical; econometric; application; and market."

    Couldn't they have found somebody else?
    • Re:WTF? - FTA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by slashflood (697891) <flow@@@howflow...com> on Sunday April 23, 2006 @09:34AM (#15184351) Homepage Journal
      "That is a mindset that should be discouraged from being advocated."

      I don't get it. You ripped this line out of its context. Let me get it back in:

      "Open source is not the poor man's Windows, [t]hat is a mindset that should be discouraged from being advocated."

      Translated: "You don't use Open Source, just because it is cheaper than Windows. There are other reasons."
    • "That is a mindset that should be discouraged from being advocated."
      The person who said that, Mukul Krishna, is clearly a devotee of the Winston Churchill style of prose, and would probably respond to you by saying "That is a criticism up with which I shall not put".
  • Man, if only someone would come up with a viable way to improve IT education in those regions.... I'm sure that an idea like that would be really well [slashdot.org] received [slashdot.org] by us concerned Slashdotters.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @08:35AM (#15184221) Homepage Journal
    I travel and I travel a lot: 40 countries so far and the one thing that frustrates me to no end are American swho think that bringing technology to the world is a bad thing. They suffer from a mentality that the grass is greener...

    Not doing what we can to empower folks in impoverished countries only serves to keep them down. Maybe, just maybe they can (no closed sourced pun intended) excel and achieve great things if they just had the tools. Before the technology boom the concept of outsourcing anything to India was unheard of for example. It's not empowering EVERYONE but India is definitely becoming a powerhouse. I know small businesses who outsource to Ukraine and Azerbaijan now.

    Closed source by it's very expensive nature only serves to keep people down.
    • Closed source by it's very expensive nature only serves to keep people down.

      Closed source does not by nature have to be expensive. That isn't one of it's essential properties. It can be very cheap and widely used.

      You, for example, are running your OSS on a system which has BIOS firmware for which you don't have the source code. (cradle your head tight in your arms to keep it from exploding).
      • BIOS isn't a very good example -- open BIOS would be fantastic for a number of reasons. This is especially frustrating because it does a relatively trivial task of initializing enough hardware to load the bootloader and providing tables of hardware data to the OS. Sadly few MB manufacturers are willing to provide enough information to write a free BIOS replacement.
    • Closed source by it's very expensive nature only serves to keep people down.

      Except when it's, y'know, useful, and provides them with a tool that makes them more productive. Or when it's entertaining, and they pay for it just like any other entertainment.

      Closed software doesn't keep people down, and open source doesn't raise people up. Bad software, bad anything, keeps people down. Good software, like good anything else, raises people up.

      What really keeps people down, beyond anything else, though, is the
    • by bigman2003 (671309) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @09:28AM (#15184328) Homepage
      Sure, empowering people is a great thing.

      But then we have to look at the realities of what happens when the rest of the world gets empowered. For example, this recent Slashdot post: http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/22/20 30248 [slashdot.org] discusses the future of IT in America.

      For many of the people who responded, the outlook was bleak due to outsourcing to countries where the labor is cheaper. Thus, the IT industry in the U.S. weakens, keeping recent college graduates out of the positions they went to school for.

      Should we care? Should we keep the knowledge to ourselves, in order to keep our economy strong?

      Usually that depends on which side of the issue you are on...are you one of the people negatively affected by the world-wide expansion of tech professionals, or not.

      So while it may seem like something we should do (empowering the rest of the world) not everyone agrees. And this does not just apply to the US, and not just to the tech industry.

      Do you think that the people who run the banana plantations want their employees to be educated?

      • Knowledge is not like gold and silver, aka "specie." There is not a limited supply. Because one nation has more does not mean another has less, or benefits from it less. The idea that we have to guard our sacred knowledge in order to stay strong seems to me very much like modern-day mercantilism, and just as doomed as that archaic worldview turned out to be.
        • True, knowledge is not a limited commodity.

          But for knowledge to be powerful, you need to know things that other people do not.

          I am not advocating closing our intellectual borders. But I do want to point out that not everyone feels that empowering third world nations with technological prowess is a good thing.

          Life is about competition and survival. The only thing that makes us (which applies to any group you might be in) BETTER is that the other guys are WORSE.

          • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:42AM (#15184618) Homepage Journal
            Life is about competition and survival. The only thing that makes us (which applies to any group you might be in) BETTER is that the other guys are WORSE.

            You know, for most of human history, most people -- or at least most nations -- believed exactly that. The result was a never-ending race to the bottom, constant squabbling, cruelty on a vast scale; societies where humanity managed, briefly, to rise above the muck, such as the height of Rome, were inevitably brought down and buried by barbarians who saw their (relative) wealth and could conceive of no other path than to try to steal it.

            This really didn't change until the late 18th c., at which point people started realizing, however dimly, that wealth is not a zero-sum game, that there were points of stable equilibrium above the combination of crushing power and grinding poverty. And to be sure, the ramifications took a long time to work out. Liberty, equality, fraternity turned into the Reign of Terror and the conquests of Napoleon; aggressive colonial expansion shattered ancient cultures and all too often led to outright genocide; the US required a Civil War to do away with its remaining Old Wolrd aristocracy; Britannia's rule of the waves may have been largely benign, but it was bought with sword and flame; last and worst, the grotesque auto-da-fe of World War One and the long shadow it cast on the twentieth century, including World War Two and the Cold War, serve to remind us that we're not done yet.

            But -- the fact of the matter is that on average, life is better, for more people, all over the world, than it has ever been before. And this is not because we have managed to take from others, but because we have built for ourselves. Competition, yes, but competition according to a set of rules, with the understanding that there can be more than one winner. Survival, yes, but with a recognition that we can do more than simply survive.

            Welcome to the modern world. Look around, take in the sights. You'll probably see some things that will shock you, and other things it will be hard for you to understand at first, but once you get used to how things work around here, I think you'll enjoy your stay.
            • I disagree.

              I am talking about human nature or more to the point, our animal instincts.

              These instincts do not disappear after only a few hundred years of our modern society. We are still animals. Have you ever had sex? You'll know what I mean.

              We have not reached our brave new world of super-equality, and all-encompassing civilized behavior. We still have all of the same trappings of our animalistic past.

              Because you cannot have a winner, unless there is a loser.
              • So how do you explain the fact that, by any reasonable measure, living standards worldwide have been rising for the last few centuries? Who's losing here?

                I'm not denying that we're animals, with animal instincts. Among animals, however, we have the (as far as we know) unique trait that we can predict the consequences of our actions, and channel our instincts accordingly.

                This is true even of sex. Not only is sexual behavior largely determined by culture (nobody is born understanding the concept of forepla
              • I am talking about human nature or more to the point, our animal instincts.

                It just so happens that you have a misbegotten notion of "Instincts" and "Human Nature", as the wealth of papers on the fields of Ethology and Psychology would show you. You would see that cooperation is as much a strategy amongst primates (you are a primate, you know that much, don't you?) than competition.
                However, unfortunately for you, I won't be posting my keyword here for the huge database of scientific papers I subscribe to, so
                • These are some of the most naive comments I have ever read here on Slashdot.

                  You can cite (or infer that you have actually read) all of the scientific studies you would like, but the actual fact is- society is based on competition. People only cooperate because it increases their chances of survival/victory.

                  Look at something simple like sports- yes, there is cooperation. You have a team. You have fans. But none of it makes any difference if you don't have someone to compete with. And you want your team
            • Man, I wish more people would read your post.
      • For many of the people who responded, the outlook was bleak due to outsourcing to countries where the labor is cheaper. Thus, the IT industry in the U.S. weakens, keeping recent college graduates out of the positions they went to school for.

        That, my friend, is the effect of competition in markets. "Free markets" and "democracy" are keywords the U.S. likes to splatter on the wall (in particular when invading countries).
        Now eat it all up.
        But, look! You're not alone! Germans and French are loosing jobs, too!
        Fa
  • From the article:

    Krishna blames the lack of software developers from these developing nations on lack of time, as most people have to work other jobs to support themselves and their families.

    Riiiight. Becuase every single open source developer in the US and Europse is paid by his or her employer to work exclusively on a pet open source project. Please. While I know that there are examples of people getting paid as their primary job to work on open source software (Torvalds, Tridge, Cox, de Icaza, th

    • A large middle class with significant 'spare time' is a particularly recent, western, first-world phenomenom. In third world countries, most people - except for the aristocracy - just don't have much spare time.
      Forty hours per week? Until the US became industrialized in the late 1800s, most people worked 10-12 per day 6+ days per week.
      • by Gryle (933382)
        Mod parent up.
        In first world nations (for example, the USA), the average worker can work less hours and still maintain a decent standard of living. Granted, this is not the always the case in places such as South Texas, or certain regions of Applachia, but the majority of the working class does not have to choose between working those extra hours or starving. In third-world/developing nations, such as the Honduras or Haiti, that extra two or three hours of work can literally be the deciding factor on wheth
    • Most developers in India come into this field only because of the money. So its a really big deal that they turn up any code at work at all. People want to become a ".Net programmer" or a "J2EE expert" just cos its the current hot technology. Then there are the more "computer literate" kinds who know that there's more money in the ERPs and hence go there. Rarely would you find a person who's in there for the love of it.

      There are many though, who do contribute to open source in India. Much of the effort is i
  • How is it possible that "Open source software and development can push governments of developing nations ahead in the world"? How many American Open Source Projects make money? Do their participants have Political Influence? Is Torvalds running for president? What opportunities does this bring governments?
  • If some company uses open source solutions and these solutions prove to be scalable and flexible that company will feel reluctant to stop using a winning formula. There are a lot of regular newbe users who start to use open source products and when they have used them for some time start to contribute to it. I think that it takes a while before people start contributing. I rather see all poorer countries with emerging markets using open source like hell without paying any contribution, than seeing MicroSoft
  • as much of 90 percent of the proprietary software in use in these developing countries consists of pirated copies.

    Problem solved! ;)
  • by TheNoxx (412624) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @08:57AM (#15184259) Homepage Journal
    I think that OSS developers in these countries will pop up only after the wide-spread use of OSS. What we need are current open source groups to get together with university language programs and create free, easy-to-use open source software with well-translated documentation along with some pre-set up forum space or somesuch... I don't really see it happening any other way.
    • So you want Spanish language students in Kansas to translate OSS software to Spanish so that Spanish-speaking people around the world will more freely adopt it? I think that to the contrary, native speakers should do that work. And largely they are.

      OSS isn't an 'American' phenomena, in fact it is very international in scope. It isn't an act of charity by the West, it's a bootstrap opportunity for the people of the developing world themselves.
      • I know, but that doesn't mean we couldn't or shouldn't lend a helping hand to give a good thing a good boost, besides, while wide-spread languages like Spanish probably aren't a big problem to find amongst OSS, the more obscure languages of developing nations sure can be; as a nation of immigrants, surely we can offer alot in these areas.
    • I agree completely. Next week I'm traveling to The Gambia [cia.gov] where I'll be helping build the IT infastructure. They are in the beginning stages of incorporating technology. For example, my first major project will be initially networking the 20 computers of the nation's second largest institution of higher learning.

      As it stands, all the computers run Windows. Because of the age of the boxes, they even use windows 95. My first reaction to this is a free unix could be installed on those machines and they co

      • What are they doing with these computers that they couldn't do with a Ubuntu installation? Seriously. I've stuck a couple people (who don't play video games) randomly with Ubuntu and they haven't had any problems.

        • I'm not talking about using the computers, but about administering them. Troubleshooting free software isn't easy. It requires searching a bunch of different sources, reading a manuals and a good foundation of knowledge about the OS. The only way Linux in the third world is going to be reasonable is when the average volunteer from the first world knows his way around Unix as well as he knows his way around windows.
          • How much adminining do they really need to do? Installing desktop apps and updates is trival if they have an internet connection. Even if they don't have an internet connection, working off the install CD isn't that bad. Printers and stuff mostly just work.

            I'm not seeing it. What's this task they're going to be doing that'll be any more difficult than Windows XP vs. Windows 2000?

  • From the article:

    Still, the analyst says software is an area of technology where the barriers to entry are "minuscule."

    That's until certain proprietary software companies manage to persuade their governments to raise them, such as by enacting laws enabling software to be patented. Or just persuading their patent offices to grant software patents, saving the government persuasion until enough patents have been collected.

  • Having the source code available to study, modify, fix etc., can only be helpful in education. Unless someone can explain how closed source provides such an opportunity. There is no conflict here regarding licensing, even the GPL only states that those who have access to the application must have access to the source code, and since most software is not accessed by the public at large it really only make since that those using the software be able to maintain it.

    But there is more happening here. Software it
    • Having the source code available to study, modify, fix etc., can only be helpful in education. Unless someone can explain how closed source provides such an opportunity.

      Fallacy. You seem to imply there can be no situation like in the BSD scenario (or MPL, or Apache, or LPGL, etc.) where you have proprietary modification AND access to code.
    • But there is more happening here. Software itself, the way it is produced, is changing and at some point it will be as common for the general user to produce code or instruct the machine to, as general use math is today common place, and the use of a calculator.

      i seem to remember glenn gould saying something similar about everybody having a tone studio in their house so they can splice together their perfect version of beethoven's fifth. ten years later he had to do a lot of back-pedalling. he thought,
  • ... there may be too few open source developers in those regions.

    I would not worry about China. With nearly 200 millon students, say 1% goes to I/T and technology. Then say pesemistically say that 1% of that become open source developers. This would be 20,000 additional open source developers.

    As these other countries emerge into volume commerce and are more economically developed they will produce open source developers in numbers far larger than we see today. And they do not need to fight for the so

  • I can give the view from Pakistan: Open Source software has NO CHANCE HERE!!!! Pirated software is abundantly available here. Heck talking about open source, Linux is not even bought in the markets as it IS MORE EXPENSIVE than windows, because it comes in 2-3 CDs and windows in one(the dealers charge per CD) The linux distributions available in the market are two versions old. Like Fedora C3 hit the market recently. Downloading distros is no option for people here, as the majority are behind 56kps dialu
    • I (and a whole bunch of other People) consider piracy the best thing to happen to Windows. Most people don't care about GPL or source code and go strickly on price. Piracy gives Windows an edge over Linux in emerging markets.
    • Quite a few people in India are beginning to switch to Linux. To be honest, I haven't actually tried looking in shops for Linux, but Ubuntu ships free CDs [ubuntu.com]. You can also try linuxbazar.com [linuxbazar.com]; I bought some CDs from them, and they say they ship to Pakistan too.
      Usually, Linux enthusiasts are more than willing to copy their CDs for just the cost of CD, so unless the dealers are charging only 15 Rs for Windows (that's less than 33 cents in USD!), I think Linux might still be cheaper.
      As for open-source in genera
      • Quite a few people in India are beginning to switch to Linux.

        So, what's India gonna do with Linux? Take an airplane and fly to another continent for huge contracts on Linux deployments?

        Or are they just going to put a CVS repositories for GPLed applications, like spreadsheet programs or business integration software that anyone will be able to copy? When the time comes to sell support, will you fly people to the U.S. (clearly, Indians are better off than Pakistanis, who are at a disadvantage here because of
        • Why would the licensing difference matter?

          You can make all the Unix propritary software you want and it'll run great Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, whatever. The only difference is that existing Linux distros like Ubuntu are a bit more polished for general purpose desktops.

          It's not like there's some amazing market for kernel modifications. The base OS works fine, what people want more of is apps.

          • It depends on the kind of software you write. As I said in another post, it's not gratuitous that GNOME, Apache, Mono, JBOSS, choose licenses that are business-friendly.

            • The only time there's any difference between the BSD license and the GPL licence is when some company decides that they need to keep their source code a trade secret and still redistribute the binaries.

              There is only one business model where that even matters, and that business model can be emulated pretty closely with GPL software (i.e. What licence is the Quake 2 source code released under? Can you legally distribute copies of Quake 2 yet? No - the data files are still under pure copyright.) So you'd need

    • For any country to be dependant upon imported proprietary software can't be a good thing; it has to be even worse for a developing country's IT infrastructure to be dependant upon pirated copies of Microsoft Windows.
    • You're saying that Open Source Software (OSS) has no chance in Pakistan (and, presumably, other places) because pirated software is also Zero Cost Software (0$S). That's why there needs to be a recognition that Open Source is more than just Zero Cost (OSS > 0$S). Right now the main advantage of Proprietary Illicit Non-Free Software (PI$S) is its availability and widespread mindshare. OSS has some advantages, such as being able to modify the program, and faster feedback from developers (not necessarily
    • Surely there are two major benefits:

      1) Open Source can be customised to meet local needs: a competent programmer (even one that learned by reading the source himself) can make a huge salary building and maintaining an app on PGSQL/Linux for local merchant, who would benefit enormously from having the management tools this could bring him - and could pay a lot by local standards The local merchant is not going to be able to afford Oracle FInancials, and trust me, no one is going to get a reliable management

    • Somehow I doubt that many people buy computer operating systems on CDs at markets - don't they tend to come with computers?

  • While they say developing regions such as China, East Asia, India, and South America are among the biggest markets for open source software, UNU officials worry that there may be too few open source developers in those regions.

    Not only that but they also have low respect for Intellectual Property. They are more likely to not adhere to the license governing Open Source Software (especially GPL). End result is that the community doe not benefit from improvements. We've seen this with a few Chinese companies a
  • I think it's often overlooked that open source is actually a free market force. The forces that are pushing open source, is not that it's free, but that as society enters the information age the service value of information becomes worth more than the content value. That's why it's biggest influences have been, and will continue to be in free market countries like the USA. It is actually sort if ironic that the countrys that are most able to afford proprietary software are actually the ones that are go
  • Who came up with this stuff??? Did I just catch Stallman laugh?
  • by Coeurderoy (717228) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:53AM (#15184687)
    There are several real issues with Open Source in Emerging Economies
    1) Limited broadband capabilities, even in a country like Saudi Arabia the typical University/Research Center/ISP will have a limited international connectivity, and downloading a Linux Distrib is not easy, having a large number of people doing this is even harder.
    On the bonus side the same applies to Windows upgrade with the result that most installations are hopelessly unsafe, and the typical Windows box a flea ridden disaster.

    2) Limited value given to Freedom, although the "G8" countries are trying to limit the citizens freedoms to fight T. D.D. and P. you can promote "Freedom" without sounding "too" suspicious, in a dictatorship where Free Speech is defined as a foreign conspiracy against national values only "Free as in Free beer/(or in some country apple juice)" stays as an argument.
    And of course if you have a lot of conterfeiting happenning you are in a situation where Ubuntu cost 4$ and Windows Vista also 4$ (two DVD you see).

    3) Limited access to large projects
    Large projects are "paid for" by foreign government through various "AID" schemes, wich actually means that "G8" tax payers carry the risk of large loans, that are eventually repaid by the emerging countries tax payers to various insurance funds.
    And since it is an "AID" it actually means that the lender country decides what will be used, and in the case of the US it means
    That the great philantropist Bill Gates will be contacted to provide his marvellous products.

    4) Limited access to "reseller bonus",
    Basically the way corruption works in emerging countries is that since the "G8" countries decided to "fight corruption" what they
    really did is "outsource it" to local reseller, since "service bills" will be paid on delivery, and since the people who are
    expecting a kick back are in a hurry the best place to pad fees are in the licences fees.
    So basically you sell a lot of licences for 10 time the real price and the local distributor is giving the cash "as needed"
    And you have plausible deniebility.
    Of course if you use Open Source solutions 10 time 0 is 0, not very attractive.

    5) Little respect for creative work, the most admired people are "warriors" of some kind and "big merchant", and those people are
    the one that get the best revenue, actual "work" is paid a minimum. And since Open Source is all about squezzing out the
    "merchant" and trying to give the power back to the "creator" it does not fit.

    Why will it ultimatelly succeed

    a) Telcos are greedy, so they will ultimatelly improve the infrastructure to attract more customers.
    b) Public discourse and private discourse are very different, so ultimatelly the grass roots effect of Open Source should do the trick
    c) The governments are starting to be scared of the cost of "aid", so some critical infrastructure are self funded (so have to be affordable)
    d) Corruption has a tendency toward reduction, and anyway where it cannot be reduced the "corrupt elite" will see in their interest to find ways to squezze cash out of "sustainable solutions".
    e) People in the emerging country will eventually start to find their own creative role models, you might keep in mind that one of the things the precipitated the first world war (less that 100 years ago) was the desire of the German Imperial government to stop local opponents by calling on a common enemy.
    And one of the gripes of the local opponents was the "c
  • by Duncan3 (10537)
    Not to point out the really obvious, but developers in those countries are may be too busy working to make money 16 hours a day, and just have no time to write open source. The conditions really are horrible.

    You know, the developers we outsourced all the jobs to because they are cheaper, leaving plenty of free time for western developers to write Open Source.

    India is starting to join the open source world in great numbers... because their jobs are being outsourced to China.

    Yes, I expect this will be modded
    • Well you're perfectly right about the 16 hour days. But I beg to differ on the "their jobs are being outsourced to China" bit.

      The fact here is that there are enough "mushroom companies" that are coming up in India that are taking care of any inflating costs to the larger outsourcing companies. They simply outsource the smaller assignments to these small companies or to smalltime freelancers and save a bounty.

      Even today, as I speak (not exactly, its 1 in the night here ;) ) IT services companies, big a
  • I'm going to Ethiopia in June with an organisation called Camara [camara.ie] to give refurbished computers to schools. 12 of us are going over there to help set up the computers and to teach the teachers and student how to use computers. Lots of them won't have seen a computer before. Obviously, we use Linux on all our machines. Information technology is incredibly empowering to a society and to schools. Access to Wikipedia alone almost makes it worth it. If you'd like to help us, we need money for flights and vacci
  • Come on, its funny how the UN hasn't figured this one out yet... Forget Software, which required most ppl to have access to computers and electricity which is not abundant in "rural areas" or third world countries.

    A lot of ppl can't afford medicine in 1'st world countries itself, I live in Canada, and my Dad's medicines cost about 4G's a year. Imagine how bad it is in all these other countries.

    Yes I know medicine takes up a lot of investment on the part of drug companies, but so does software.

    If a lot of th
  • "Volunteer Jobs Represent Big Opportunity for Developing World"
     
  • Some perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AfricanImpi (879572) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @07:07PM (#15186778)

    First of all, let's stop the stereotyping. The "developing world" is huge and extremely diverse, containing countries as comparatively wealthy and advanced as South Africa as well as underdeveloped and poor countries like Mozambique. To suggest, as some have here, that "nobody in the developing world has free time", or "few people have access to electricity" or my personal favourite of "people in the developing world have more pressing needs, such as food and water", is of course ludicrous. To those making such arguments, please do us all a favour and educate yourselves.

    Programming is essentially a product of enthusiasm, as many of those reading Slashdot will probably know. In this, it is similar to becoming a pilot. Every single programmer I know began programming purely out of interest, and a desire to do more with their computers and explore the boundaries of what was possible. Not all programmers go on to make it their careers though, just as not all of those who dream of flying as kids end up as pilots. However, when the demand is there, people become encouraged to turn their hobby or interest into a career, and do so. The thing to remember here is that programmers are not created, and you cannot shove out some govt program that will result in a couple hundred programmers emerging by the end of the year. Instead, it's about giving youths access to computers (say at school) and teaching them the healthy curiousity and ambition that results in them trying to do more than the usual.

    Currently, the emergence of programmers in the developing world is hampered by a lack of widespread access to quick and cheap internet, and a lack of access to computers. Yet this is slowly changing, and it really can only get better as both internet access and computing become irrevocably cheaper every year. Indeed, if there are already enough skilled software programmers in India to throw half of Slashdot's contributors into a protectionist rage every so often, then you know things are looking up in the developing world.

    This article, and others like it, is interesting but ultimately misguided. The choice here is not an absolutist one between open source and proprietary software, as both have their place, and nor is there any way to magically create programmers. Instead, the attention that is being focused on the supposed lack of programmers such instead be focused on pressuring the governments of the developing world to liberalise their markets, drop tariffs, and generally increases the level of freedom available to their people, so that those with the curiousity to try new things will be able to do so without hindrance.

  • I don't see the reason of their focus on "improving the open desktop". Internationalization is certainly a clear need, but I wonder about GUI design. I hope the report (is there a link to it?) does a better job at describing deep causes of technological lag. I would like to point out some areas of needed attention:

    - existing bandwidth: to download software, check documentation and contact developers and users. By just improving that part of the infrastructure, interested parties would do a lot.

    - brick and

  • I can say from my experience as a OSSD (d as in developer) in Brazil that the problem is not with the quantity of developers, but with the companies and investors that are always paying better to professionals that work with Microsoft solutions like Visual Studio, now the market is getting too intensive in Java, and when you go only to one direction then ofcourse you are going to have too many jobs and less qualified workers. Companies need to know that if they choose a tecnology, they need to see the healt

Contemptuous lights flashed flashed across the computer's console. -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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