"Open source is the... best form of civic participation.
-- Macon Philips, White House New Media Director
Governments can be very powerful proponents of open source or become its greatest enemy. In some cases, governments are embracing open source as a low-cost alternative to more expensive and proprietary alternatives. In other cases, open source is being used to teach technology skills in schools. Some governments are even building and cultivating open source communities of their own.
On the other hand, laws and regulations can often present a serious barrier to the adoption of open source software and the Open Source Way. This can be intentional, as formal policies forbidding open source software from a particular government agency. This can also be informal, as anti-lobbying policies may prevent open source volunteers from helping their government.
With the unprecedented government interest in open source, we wonder: "Why would open source be of special interest to government?" "Should open source be encouraged?" "What is the role of government in open source communities?"
Here, we're looking at the latest in the intersection of open source and government, with a special focus on the ways government can encourage and cultivate open source communities.