Open source and open society: using Plone to build community on-line - Tom MorozΒΆ

Tags: plone, ploneconf2007

He works for the open society institute and they've recently started a big intranet on Plone. They also discovered quite some parallels between their society work and the open source movement.

OSI follows the philosophy of Popper about an open society. They grew and evolved in a quite organic manner, expanding to 32 national foundations. One of the challenges is to connect those 32 independent foundations. Some key initiatives: advocacy, education, media, local government, human rights, justice, public health.

Some key overlaps between open society and open source. Knowledge is provisional and fallible. If just a few persons or one government agency produces a document, it is fallible. The more people or stakeholders have been involved, the greater the reliability. If a lot of things are fallible, you have to be much more tolerant. Tolerant of different opinions. It needs transparency. Transparency is normal in open source, it is an ideal for a society. OSI publishes statistics and data on a lot of subjects to improve transparency.

Open source is pluralistic and multi-cultural. Just look at the number of nationalities present at this conference! Open source is often also open. Social mobility is a good measure of openness: can you move "up" based on your capacity and achievements?

Their new intranet brings together the employees from all over the world. They added a lot of "web 2.0" functionality: everything can be tagged, people can have blogs, you can comment on entries, news listings everywhere. Especially the tagging mechanism works great for discovering content from all the various foundations.

Some future visions. OSI sees itself as a microcosm for the global potential of collaboration. And they hope that something like their system can be offered as a hosted service so that other foundations without the needed technical capacity/capability can also use it.

There is a lot of good stuff happening globally. There won't be a real global change till those people and initiatives start to connect and interact. Plone can really help to bring about collaboration.

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