Postmortum on the Texas Open Source Bill

Link: Linux Access in State and Local Government, Part IV.

In the linked article, Tom Adelstein discusses efforts to pass state-level legislation that encourages using open source software. He detailed the life and expiration of Texas SB 1579, and discussed the EFF-Austin lobbying effort I helped coordinate.

I think his commentary is insightful, and we need to take it to heart for next time around. (And you're darn tootin' there'll be a next time!) I fear, however, he may be a bit too harsh on the Open Source community. I suspect that if we weren't such rank novices at this organizing and lobbying thing, we might have turned out more support. I hope that as we accumulate experience and expand our network, our ability to rally the community will improve.

I differ with Tom on one significant point. I believe our greatest lack was not community support, but business support. We needed to bring in some heavyweight names and we failed to do so. It's one thing if I go to a Senator and say, "Microsoft is feeding you a line of shit." It's another thing if somebody from, say, IBM does that.

Still, Tom does a great job capturing how the process works. I hope this article becomes required reading for all the EFF-Austin people working on legislation. All legislation, not just open source.

Sure, we wish it had gone all the way. In practical terms, the fact that we even got a committee hearing was a big success. Most bills die a quiet and ignoble death, without ever being heard. Next session, we hope for even bigger things.