Unity in diversity

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In India, there is an adage one plus one is equal to eleven, and the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community around the world fits exactly into this adage. These virtual communities of developers and followers have a vision of coming together to solve the problems of the world. It is not without reason that one can call the FOSS community as the classical success story of a Community of Practitioners (CoP), a term so widely used in the knowledge sharing sector.

Had it not been for a bunch of people believing in this philosophy, the World Wide Web or Internet would not be what it is. Free, sharing and growing without losing business. Developing the concept of Open Standards and inter operability while addressing key issues like costs, resolution of buggy problems and solving the menace of worms and viruses, these developers have opened to the world of international development, immense opportunities to leap-frog into the digital world.

But is this fight all about principles alone? What about policies, training, finding adequate support manpower and addressing the true costs of moving away from proprietary to open source software? The i4d team and the contributing authors have compiled this issue to give a flavour of the developments in this field. Their journey into this world has provided a fascinating experience, which we are happy to share with you in this edition.

Forums around the world of Linux users groups and efforts for localisation of the Internet have ensured that the digital world does not lead to the death of many languages and cultures and the vast heritage of the diverse world can get documented digitally. It also makes sure that projects that are started off as creative products of software developers have local relevance and improve the lives and livelihoods of people.

The International Open Source Network has done some commendable work to develop primers and dossiers to enable the universities and teaching community to adapt to the rapidly growing field of FOSS. With adequate manpower ready in a few years, this movement that has already captured 8 per cent of the desktop market for operating system will be able to make its mark in the world of development.

We always want to know how we are faring in our research and documentation in each issue, so please do let us know what the problems are or if you have a counter view to some topics that we have presented, please do not hesitate to write to us.

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