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Get More Bang For Our Stimulus Bucks With Open Source In Schools - page 2

Don't Throw Good Money After Bad

  • February 20, 2009
  • By Matt Hartley

Using Linux to create sustainable jobs for tomorrow.

In this article, I've talked about how I see desktop Linux and open source technology refreshing the dated infrastructure many schools face today. And thanks to new stimulus money, US schools will be presented with some great opportunities to hopefully make each dollar count.

Yet I see the above call to action as going much further than simply providing schools with resources enhanced by Linux. I also believe other areas set to be funded by the stimulus package would also do well to "change" the way these sectors embrace technology. Not by adding more of the same, but instead, using open source ideas to create a sustainable eco-system where we're putting one of my all time favorite adages into practice.

"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."

Rather than putting total emphasis on "shovel ready" jobs exclusively for those lacking other skills, let's also consider the long term value of including re-trainable, sustainable jobs integrating open source software into other areas of society. So rather than simply handing a shovel to the unemployed guy looking to feed his family, let's also provide access to a training option where these same individuals have the option to come in on their off-work time to learn how to administer a Linux shop?

What? The idea of a blue-collar worker learning to administer Linux sounds completely impossible? Apparently you are not familiar with the fact that there a number of existing open source developers today who are blue collar workers by trade.

I can personally think of three off of the top of my head. The stereotype of the typical Linux geeks is fast proving to be a misnomer, thanks to a new influx of projects showing up on SourceForge and Google Code. Best of all, these same individuals are able to take the same skills they learned working with Linux and then go out on their own, should they wish to create their own businesses. They're able to support themselves in the short term, while learning something potentially sustainable in the long term. Hence, teaching someone to "fish," as it were.

So were in the heck would these new shovel wielding Linux admins possibly find work in this terrible economy? After all, the educational sector already has a tremendous number of trainable IT personnel that are capable of learning to add Linux to their knowledge base. Well, how about healthcare? Considering it's both growing and an area destined to see stimulus funds, the idea of putting people to work in the long term does not appear to be so insurmountable.

But it is a Windows world!

By now, there are still going to be a number of you who continue to believe I'm out of my mind for even suggesting such a radical change.

If this is your perspective, fine. But I would challenge each of you who disagrees to provide me with concrete reasons as to why something like this would never work. Not because you "hate Linux," rather due to a fundamental hurdle I might have overlooked. After all, I'm only human and cannot possibly forgo overlooking something along the way here. So well thought out counter-points are always welcome.

That said, I'm confident in the idea that I might be onto something here. If nothing else, it sure beats duplicating what hasn't worked for all of these years with regard to IT in schools and health care.

Article courtesy of Datamation

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