[fosscomm] FOSSCOMM structure - short term and long term

Guru गुरु guru at itforchange.net
Sat Jul 11 20:59:08 PDT 2009


Sajan has begun discussions on an issue that many of us are keen to get 
some hold on.

One of the discomforts of having FOSSCOMM represented on the open 
standards issue was that we dont have a structure of any kind, which is 
critical for policy advocacy as well for other work.

At the same time, this is a complex issue that will not get completely 
settled quickly. Hence I think we should discuss the issue looking at 
both short term imperatives (what we need urgently for FOSSCOMM to be 
able to be active inter alia do proactive work  on policy aspects) and 
long term possibilities and aspirations (the ideal structures and 
processes that we would like FOSSCOMM to move towards)

My own suggestions

For the short term, look at creating 'working groups' on identified 
issues where people can volunteer. We did a similar process at Bangalore 
, where we identified different activities and interested 
individuals/organizations got together. The difference here is that 
these working groups will create positions and represent on behalf of 
FOSSCOMM, so we need to have some kind of support from the larger 
group/plenary for the working group activities

To support working groups, we should try and have one full time person - 
this can enhance our capacities which is otherwise fully voluntary and 
pro bone. Issues as where the person will sit, who will compensate etc 
need to be discussed

in the long run, a society kind of structure (easiest to create, widest 
and most democratic possibilities) would be useful. where the general 
body of FOSSCOMM members can chose their executive committee/office 

These are some quick initial thoughts to keep the discussions on. I have 
changed the subject line accordingly


sajan venniyoor wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 11, 2009 at 8:47 PM, prabir <prabirp at gmail.com 
> <mailto:prabirp at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     The problem right now is that we are getting bogged down in
>     who will represent us in this one issue of open standards one time,
>     and losing sight of what we need to do to be heard and called into
>     such bodies. That I am afraid will mean entering the real world, which
>     is much worse than the virtual world.
> What it boils down to is that we need a representative body for the FOSS 
> community. I understand that this is anathema to many in the community, 
> but that's how the real world seems to work. There are at least four -- 
> perhaps more -- ways in which an umbrella organization could be set up:
> 1. A Society -- a not-for-profit organization under the Indian Societies 
> Act, 1860. (Both Nasscom and MAIT are registered as such)
> 2. A Trust -- a public charitable trust 
> 3. A Section 25 Company (god forbid)
> or
> 4. A non-registered network of the sort we have now. The Narmada Bachao 
> Andolan, I'm told, is such a network.
> For various reasons, we should seriously consider registering FOSSCOMM 
> as a Society. 'To be heard and called', as Prabir puts it,  into 
> consultative committees and such, we need to be a registered body or 
> legal entity, as governments like to call it. An executive body or nodal 
> person is required to deal with governments and other representative 
> bodies, and we would need at the very least  a telephone number, a fax 
> number, a mail id and a mailing address. The contact person is not 
> necessarily the one who actually attends these meetings -- that's for 
> the governing body or the collective wisdom of the community to decide 
> (though collective wisdom, as we have seen, can take a long time coming).
> It is not necessary that the representative body actually represents 
> everyone in the FOSS community. It is very unlikely that it would do so. 
> But whether we have universal consensus or simply a majority view on any 
> issue, we would still need an agency to put forward that view. 
> Also, as we have seen with the issue of flying Nagarjuna to Delhi to 
> represent us, that sort of thing simply cannot depend on the generosity 
> of individuals. We need institutional mechanisms. Otherwise, we will 
> continually be forced to pick 'someone from Delhi' to do the job, and 
> what begins as a convenience could soon evolve into a tradition and 
> thence into a rule.
> Sajan
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Gurumurthy Kasinathan
IT for Change
Bridging Development Realities and Technological Possibilities
Tel:98454 37730
*IT for Change is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with United 
Nations’ Economic and Social Council*

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