Companies are shedding jobs like crazy, including strategic ones in IT (which to me IS crazy) and of course my own recently. November 2008 job losses indicate the United States may soon be retesting near-Depression era unemployment rates. President-elect Obama says he has an ambitious infrastructure-oriented plan (which we desperately need) that in part addresses our nationwide broadband capabilities as well as energy-savings potential. But why not go further in that area?
A surefire way to get operating costs down is to incorporate more and more open source tools into the systems backbone. This includes Linux on servers and the desktop for starters. Purchasing Maemo Linux-driven Nokia internet tablets to replace desktop phones (using Voice over IP, or VOIP) is a good next step– especially since the tablets are essentially highly mobile mini laptops with myriad uses. The N810 WiMAX Edition model would be perfect for the DC area since the service is being deployed there.
The US government is the ideal candidate for this sort of move for many reasons, cost savings to taxpayers just being one. The fed is said to still employ many antiquated systems and software so there is far less legacy and inertia involved in going open than in a commercial situation. In addition, taking the open source route could remove at least one layer of potential conflict-of-interest that may lie with vendors who have contributed to political campaigns. I doubt open source developers and distributors contribute on the same scale!
There is encouragement to be found in analysis showing open source enterprises to be prospering in this economic downturn. I would view that as common sense, but it’s good to see validation.
If incoming president Barack Obama is serious about putting Americans to work, saving energy and cutting cost, it’s time the fed took open source seriously. That would be change we geeks can believe in.
Update: the N810 WiMAX Edition tablet has been cancelled by Nokia.