Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Building innovation nodes through Free Software Communities (III): participants

This is the third post of this serie. Please read the first two (I and II) before reading this one.

A.- Participants

As mentioned in the previous post, the participants in a project like the one we are describing can be organized in three different groups:

1.- Source

There are the organizations which represent the innovation source, that is, Local Free Software Communities (LFSC from now on).

Mature Global Free Software Communities (GFSC) are organizing more and more local groups, specially in non-English speaking countries since people in general like to related to each other in their native language. But in most cases those local groups are not configured as legal entities. When they are, most of the times there is no legal relation with the matrix, at least, so they can operate as legal representatives of the GFSC in its country.

Due to law differences, in each country that relation implies different rights and duties, so there no single and simple way of building that relation. But is an achievable problem in most cases. In KDE we created a precedent with the agreement with KDE Spain (link). we are using this initiative as experiment in order to replicate it with more LFSC.

This project should have, as one of its major goals, to help local groups:
  • To become legal entities, so they can grow and mature, by being able to relate to other organizations, not just its matrix.
  • To develop activities that allow them to increase the number of local contributors and the software use by local players.

2.- Catalyst

The Catalyst is the organization that will put the initial effort to attract local communities to the project. Ideally, it'll will have the initial resources and the localization needed to launch the project. Its major initial goals will be:
  • To coordinate the initial steps and prepare everything for the LFSCs to take command of the project when the Assembly is formed.
  • To promote interactions and networking among LFSCs and between those and local agents.
  • To do marketing with impact beyond Free Software media.

3.- Local agents

The initially act as receptors of the knowledge transfer generate in Free Software Communities. In a second step, little by little, will generate its own experience and knowledge to LFSC to end up providing them developers, experiences and (hopefully) code. Beside interacting with LFSC, Catalyst will promote interactions among them, so they can learn from each other's experience.

B.- An example: Spain

Local Free Software Communities

Mi idea is giving this project a try in a certain country. Let's say Spain. It would kick off in a certain big city and could be replicated to smaller ones. The initial LFSC candidates are:

All of them are legal entities in Spain, regularly organize community events and have ten or more members. They are the perfect starters.

Some other local groups must be also involved in the early steps. They are LFSC groups that are not legal yet, but organize events and are active groups. The project should focus on helping them to become members of the project. By the end of the first year, the goal must be to add another 5-6 local groups to the project with the same rights and duties than founders. Distribution LoCo teams (Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Gentoo, Guadalinex, Linex, CentOS, etc.), computer language related groups (Java Hispano, Rails-es, etc.), product oriented communities (Zentyal, LibreOffice-es, Plone-es, LibrePlan, etc.) and other ones like OSGEO-es, FSFe, Mozilla-es, etc. are perfect candidates for these second group.

Catalyst
 
In my mind, the perfect catalyst is a non-profit with many local contacts and visibility or a Public Administration (City Council or Municipality). Last November, I presented this idea to one City Council from a big Spanish City. Other options are being under study.

Local players/agents

The best players to involved at early stages of the project are those that have demonstrated in the past some relation and support to Free Software. The plan is to reduce the culture gap initially. My first candidates would be:
  • Regional/national Association/Federation of Free Software SME.
  • Local college (through its Free Software Office).
  • R&D Institutes with Free Software related experience.
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