Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Open Letter to the New Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd

Congratulations on your election victory, Mr. Prime Minister! (I think I can safely address you as such even though you haven't been officially sworn in yet).

I would like to get a quick word in before you are deluged by work and a cacophony of voices representing the spectrum of Australian interests.

Your campaign promised Australia a world-class education system, with an emphasis on "digital schools" and a computer for every child in Years 9 to 12. I laud your vision and extend my support and best wishes towards its successful implementation.

I must however caution that to bureaucrats who haven't kept up to date with the latest developments in the computer industry, implementing your policy may seem to mean nothing more complicated than signing a multi-million dollar agreement with Microsoft, but there is a far more efficient use of taxpayers' money.

I would urge the Labor government to look closely at the Open Source movement not only to provide basic operating and application software for school computers, but also to provide access to courseware through an "educational commons." When you do the numbers, you will find that very significant savings can be obtained by substituting perfectly good Open Source equivalents for proprietary and expensive software such as Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office. I am talking about Linux, Firefox, OpenOffice and countless other cooperatively-developed software products. Not only are the Open Source products cheaper, they are more open and standards-compliant, which means they play nicer with software from other sources. Best of all, they run on less powerful hardware and require fewer hardware upgrades, reducing the amount of money that needs to be spent just to get the infrastructure up and running. Ongoing running costs are also likely to be cheaper. And that's just the hard (dollar) benefits.

An exposure to Open Source software and an "educational commons" will also help to create a new generation of technology- and community-savvy students who can more effectively participate in an increasingly collaborative world. Our educational investment is not in computers, after all, but in intellectual assets - our children. It's the Open Source way that our children need to learn in order to adapt and survive in tomorrow's world, and your government's policies can make that a reality.

I know that these revolutionary approaches and solutions will be bitterly resisted by the technology establishment, but if the election of your government is not a vote for change, what is?

As a voter, taxpayer and concerned citizen, I would like Australia to get the best for its investments in technology and education, and I believe the Open Source way is the best way forward for this country.

With my very best wishes for your term as Prime Minister,

Yours sincerely,
Ganesh Prasad


Scott said...

Excellent letter. Clarifying that OpenOffice can open most MS Office formats would strengthen your argument.

smith said...

if you want to make sure he reads this then post this on hie website:

Huy said...

wish I could say the same to my home country, Vietnam. It's not about money. It's about knowledge, independence, freedom, and future potential.

When I die, I won't leave money to my kid. Instead, I will leave her well-prepared, well-educated, able to live a good life on her own.

"Don't Give A Man A Fish, Buy Him A Fishing Rod"

Dave said...

Thank you the letter - I intend now to use that letter together with a live CD - say Ubuntu 7:10 and visit my local member. A demonstration of what linux / open source can do to the 80 odd member of the new Government could provide the momentum to do something different

Ganesh Prasad said...

smith said...

if you want to make sure he reads this then post this on hie website:

I did.

auskadi said...

I've sent this directly to garret, snowdon and saffin all members of the new government

i think we need to get together and push this very hard quickly