[fosscomm] [fosscom] 4th July meeting

Parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Mon Jul 6 07:01:41 PDT 2009


Dear All,

Since I was moderating it, I will try to sum up the last session of the 
4th July Fosscomm meeting in Delhi which was on the way forward. This 
session was about how does the assembled group want to take the present 
association in the form of this loose group -- Fosscomm -- forward. It 
was a very interesting discussion with a range of views all of which are 
difficult to capture. However, I will try to present what I saw as 
points of possible convergence which can help us pave a path forward. I 
request all others who were present to add their perspective on what was 
discussed in this session.

There was a general agreement on the imperatives that the group is faced 
with and the corresponding functions that it may need to fulfill. These 
in my understanding were


   1.

      The group should act as a resource group/ base to help different
      member/ represented organizations and individuals do the various
      activities they do in FOSS area more effectively.

   2.

      It should also go a step further and be a platform for collective/
      coordinated action by some members in areas like capacity building
      programs etc.

   3.

      It can promote and give visibility to actions being done by
      individual/ organizational members -- an example given was the
      'hall of shame initiative by ILUG -Delhi.

   4.

      The group should improvise ways and act together for influencing
      policy in the most effective way possible.

The form for the group required to meet the imperatives/ functions 1 to 
3 were easy to imagine and agree on. However there was a debate on what 
would the policy function entail, though it was common agreement that 
this function is indeed very important, and the group must take it up in 
full earnest. A good part of the discussion revolved around the issue 
and the nature of 'representativeness'. The issue of transparency, 
accountability and possibility of 'capture' also came up. One point was 
made clear that we do not represent the whole FOSS community, and are 
just one group. Also that our legitimacy is based on what we do, and not 
what we are, and this legitimacy need therefore be constantly renewed by 
effective action in the right direction, and respect and trust of the 
community as well as policy makers earned, and re-earned.

 All our acts must also be transparent, and any work done or positions 
taken should be shared with wider FOSS community as soon as possible, if 
not pre-discussed. On the other hand, it was also pointed out that in 
interest of effective strategic engagements there may be occasions when 
great discretion may need to be exercised on publicizing information 
which may compromise our shared interests. On the whole, since the group 
brings together people and organizations especially committed to 
openness and freedoms, the norm should be a high degree of transparency, 
mutual accountability, threadbare discussion of issues and seeking 
common grounds as and if possible etc.

I did get the distinct impression that there was an agreement on 
discussing and developing common advocacy positions, in a pro-active and 
not only reactive manner, and, if agreed by the group, for members to 
represent these common positions to various advocacy foras.

I also did find some agreement that the name FOSSCOMM should be more 
widely and formally used for our collective activities. There was also 
some degree of (rhyming based :) ) excitement whether FOSSCOMM could 
become something like NASSCOM in software policy related areas. The 
precise form -- network, coalition, alliance, organization, federation 
etc -- in which FOSSCOMM can work was still left open though there were 
some good ideas on this issue. I think we should close this out at the 
earliest.

Meanwhile, it may also be useful at the earliest to start working in 
groups on action lines. Jaijit noted some of these action lines and 
point persons which he may share.  Some participants were very insistent 
that we should immediately commence some important work with clear 
deadlines to keep the momentum going.


I am sure to have left some things out, so please do add from your memory.

parminder
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