What could a vibrant SPI could accomplish?

From: Barak Pearlmutter <bap(at)cs(dot)unm(dot)edu>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: What could a vibrant SPI could accomplish?
Date: 2003-01-07 19:15:15
Message-ID: E18VzBz-0005GU-00@snot.cs.unm.edu
Views: Raw Message | Whole Thread | Download mbox
Lists: spi-general

I'd like to propose another thread of conversation for those who, like
me, don't find bylaws and quorums and minutes very interesting.

What could a vibrant SPI could accomplish?

Here are some concrete ideas.

- There is increasing interest in Free Software within the scientific
community, particularly in the field of bioinformatics. See
http://www.openinformatics.org/ for some details. It is possible
to get grants from govt agencies (NIH, NSF, DARPA, DOE) as well as
private foundations (eg Welcome Trust, Sloan Foundation) for
developing free scientific software. However, this currently
occurs almost solely within the structure of Universities, in large
part because the proposal preparation and accounting services
necessary to handle such grants is unavailable elsewhere. If SPI
could provide such services, it could encourage programmers outside
the University structure to address this important issue of public
policy, and effectively channel resources to the production of free
scientific software.

- The SPA (Software Publishers' Association) has an enormous PR
effort, including posters in corporations and schools, quotes in
newspapers, etc. Reporters always try to put "balance" in their
stories, and I would contend that they present one-sided stories
spoon-fed to them by the SPA mainly because they do not know that
there *is* another viewpoint, nor do they have a good
point-of-contact. It seems to me that if SPI had a press office,
it would be able to ameliorate a good deal of the SPA's media

- A set of positive SPI posters, designed to respond to SPA posters,
might become "hits" in the sense of being posted on corporate
bulletin boards, often in an underground fashion, in response to
the posting of SPA posters and *especially* in reaction to SPA
audits and threat letters. SPI posters would naturally have
positive messages about how free software isn't subject to piracy,
how it engenders multiple support options, how important a source
license is for enterprise-critical software, etc.

- Imagine a non-threat SPI letter. At first it looks like a nasty
legal threat letter, but upon reading turns out to be quite the
opposite! At the end it mentions that corporations right now
benefit enormously from free software, and suggests that donations
to support free software are not only in their interest, but are
also tax deductible. So really the letter would be both
educational and a donation solicitation, but with humor.

Anyway, these are off the top of my head and pretty rough. But
they're the kind of things I think SPI could consider.



Browse spi-general by date

  From Date Subject
Next Message Wichert Akkerman 2003-01-07 19:32:18 Re: What could a vibrant SPI could accomplish?
Previous Message Jimmy Kaplowitz 2003-01-07 17:59:29 Re: [draft] Proposed resolution 2003-01-06.wta.2