Software: Worldwide impact study
The FLOSSWorld project aims to strengthen
Europe's leadership in research into FLOSS and open standards, building a global constituency
with partners from Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, India,
Malaysia and South Africa.
Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) is arguably one of the best examples
of open, collaborative, internationally distributed production and development
that exists today, resulting in tremendous interest from around the world,
from government, policy, business, academic research and developer communities.
However, empirical data on the impact of FLOSS, its use and development
is still quite limited. The FP5 FLOSS project and FP6 FLOSSPOLS project
have helped fill in the gaps in our knowledge about why and how FLOSS
is developed and used, but have necessarily been focussed on Europe. FLOSS
is a global phenomenon, particularly relevant in developing countries,
and thus more knowledge on FLOSS outside Europe is needed.
FLOSSWorld primarily aims to strengthen Europe’s leadership in international
research in FLOSS and open standards, and to exploit research and policy
complementarities to improve international cooperation, by building a
global constituency of policy-makers and researchers.
It is expected that FLOSSWorld will enhance Europe’s leading role
in research in the area of FLOSS and strongly embed Europe in a global
network of researchers and policy makers, and the business, higher education
and developer communities. FLOSSWorld will enhance the level of global
awareness related to FLOSS development and industry, human capacity building,
standards and interoperability and e-government issues in the geographical
regions covered by the consortium.
The project will result in a stronger, sustainable research community
in these regions. Broad constituency-building exercises risk losing momentum
after initial workshops and meetings – without specific actions
to sustain a focus. FLOSSWorld will perform three global empirical studies
of proven relevance to Europe and third countries, which will provide
a foundation for FLOSSWorld's regional and international workshops.
A four track approach
FLOSSWorld Is designed around three research tracks,
each providing insights and gathering empirical evidence on important
aspects of FLOSS usage and development:
- Human capacity building: investigating FLOSS communities
as informal skills development environments, with economic value for
- Software development: what are the regional and international
differences – technical, organisational, business – between
FLOSS projects across countries?
- e-Government policy: what policies and behaviour do
governments around the world adopt towards FLOSS, open standards and
Following and in parallel with the research tracks will be a fourth
track, for workshops and building further collaboration:
- workshops and working group activities to build an international
research and policy development constituency: regional and international
workshops and focused working groups from the represented target regions.
A first phase focuses on actual collaboration by implementing tasks
1 to 3, the second phase focuses on analysis and building concrete future
collaborations. Global dissemination is part of this track, as is the
engagement of organisations outside the FLOSSWorld consortium.
Regional groups within FLOSSWorld
||China (>3 provinces) with possible external observers from Japan,
||India (>3 states), Malaysia, possible external observers
||South Africa, plus external participants from at least 2 other African
||Bulgaria, Croatia, possible external participants
||Argentina, Brazil, plus external participants from at least one
other Latin American country
The FLOSSWorld studies will be empirical in nature and survey-based, and
the software projects study (Track 2) will also include technical analysis
of software produced by regional FLOSS projects. Studies will build upon
the methodology and experience – as well as the data set –
of the skills-development and employer surveys and e-government survey
in the on-going FLOSSPOLS project (FP6) and its predecessor the FLOSS
project (FP5). For Track 2 the experience of MERIT and URJC from the more
technically oriented CALIBRE (FP6) project will be valuable.
The skills-development and e-government surveys of FLOSSPOLS (focussed
on the EU15 countries) are the first and largest of their kind in the
world, and have already delivered results. Similarly, the quantitative
measurement studies of thousands of FLOSS software development projects
in CALIBRE and FLOSS demonstrate the unique proven expertise of MERIT
and URJC, the two partners working on the software study in FLOSSWorld.
Over 300 000 copies of the FP5 FLOSS project report have been downloaded
since 2003, and “FLOSS”, created as a project acronym, is
now a widely used term for the entire free software/open source phenomenon
in many parts of the world. The FLOSSWorld project is expected to have
a similarly high impact at the international level, since the substantial
issues addressed – skills development and e-government activities
– have not been examined before at an international level. FLOSS
drew considerable international interest, including follow-on studies
(FLOSS-US, FLOSS-Japan) whose proponents (Stanford University, Mitsubishi
Research) are external supporters of the FLOSSWorld project. FLOSSWorld
aims to broaden the scope of international collaboration well beyond the
current consortium partners.