[OSGeo-Discuss] Reflections on the Jornadas gvSIG

Arnulf Christl arnulf.christl at wheregroup.com
Wed Nov 21 09:48:56 PST 2007

Jo Walsh wrote:
> dear all,
> I got a lot out of the Jornadas gvSIG 3-day user/developer meeting
> last week, and wanted to share a few notes with la comunidad
> ingles-hablante.
> One thing that jumped out is the strength of positive language about
> "software libre" amongst the user community; not just acceptance, but
> promotion of free software and public data in general, at the highest
> levels of public administration. I wrote a little more about this on
> the OKFN blog: http://blog.okfn.org/2007/11/20/keeping-open-libre/
> Another highlight was getting to sit in on the "Libro SIG" group
> meeting, concentrating the local OSGeo-istas. This is a hive of
> energetic and committed seeming people, with half a free GIS book
> written already, a lot on the mathematics behind analysis techniques
> contributed by Victor Olaya of the SEXTANTE project, which sounds like
> a sort of Java OSSIM. The whole question or marshalling a lot of
> different translators and contributors to a book in potentially many
> different languages is a fascinating one. 
> http://wiki.osgeo.org/index.php/Libro_SIG - a GIS book that is free
> rather than a book about free and open GIS tools specifically.
> gvSIG is on close terms with GeoNetwork and Jeroen was there giving a
> couple of talks. Metadatos are increasingly attended to, partly due to
> the pressure from the INSPIRE SDI Directive in Europe. The metadata
> plugin which Michael Gould's group has undere development will one day
> share state with and encourage contributions from other plugins.
> There's also a nice amount of connection from gvSIG to OpenStreetmap,
> both in terms of people like Ivan Sanchez and Miguel Montesinos, and
> in the software in terms of UI integration and data re-use.
> The talks at the Jornadas were mostly oriented towards the user
> community - policymakers, planners, researchers and educators - the
> technical depth and excitement seemed rather higher in the gvSIG talks
> at FOSS4G. One thing that stood out for me was the absense of visible
> commercial culture really hanging around the event. There were a few
> sponsored sessions (Eclipse, SGI) but no booths, some poster
> presentations but no promotional material on display. 
> I cast my mind back to what so amazed me at FOSSGIS in Berlin last
> March; stalls and displays for a dozen, maybe two, open source and
> open hardware oriented commercial consultancies. I wonder why there's
> not more evidence of this sort of thing here. There seems no obvious
> impedance, there's so much apparent enthusiasm for "tecnologia libre"
> in the public authority market, which in its regionalism and
> municipality is not so different from how it looks in Germany. I
> wonder how (and if!) this sort of thing can be encouraged...

In Germany a fair amount of ground work has been done educating people about Free and Open Source Software since the last millennium (starting in 1999 with intevation's work and later the start of freegis.org). This might arguably be one of the reasons why commercial backing for FOSSGIS is good. Later this effort was specifically focused at GIS service providers, spatial data providers and education (the last one being the hardest). In short, it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. I do not know of any recipe that works overnight. 

unfortunately I didn't make it to the Spain - good to know that OSGeo was well recepted and that the gvSIG folks are full of FOSS. You will have to explain to me why this works so well in Europe and is not so well accepted in NA, I don't understand it. 

One thing that I learned during the last years - and your report fully confirms this - is that the Free bit in Open Source has to be set to really get across the full message. Yes, it is harder to sell Free Software than to surprise people by saying "You can have Open Source for free (gratis)"; But in the long run it pays off because then people really understand that you can make good money using FREE software. "pays off" can be taken by the word, quite a few companies in Germany live off dealing with FOSSGIS exclusively and that for several years already (be it the WhereGroup, lat/lon, terrestris, MapMedia and many others). This might even be a reason why in Germany none of the larger proprietary shops can actually ignore it completely anymore. There are all kinds of prop/free hybrids and with 52N also the only 100% Free and Open Source shop I know that is actually partly owned by ESRI. 

People tell me that I preach to the educated when I spread this kind of rhetoric on OSGeo discuss - but I am still in doubt. At least the interest in working on advocacy issues is really low:

Gah. It seems like I am responsible for almost all articles in that category and even the category itself. I shouldn't have checked, this is depressing. This is not consensus but a single individual's opinion. We should consider to delete it. 


When I come to think of this I really despise myself. I wanted to be a developer but wasn't good enough so I started to do marketing and preach advocacy and now am just short of being a mean politician...


Can you see why this doesn't work? Its not only an ugly job but highly unrewarding on top of it. 


> hasta luego,
> jo

hasta la vista, baby

More information about the Discuss mailing list