For the people, by the people, and of the people*
Oregon's century-old tradition of progressive political reforms provides a fertile environment for the open source movement. Both are premised on the abilities and passions of the individual.
Software development, the writing of histories and encyclopedias, the development of law and public policy: each of these areas benefits from fast and flexible collaboration.
When people relax their notion of “ownership” over their own ideas, and encourage others to build on their ideas, exciting things emerge. A flexible computer operating system; an enormous, living encyclopedia; self-organized citizens bringing policy proposals to their legislators.
Oregon’s progressive political tradition has often promoted the notion that every Oregonian has something to contibute. Some of our most inspiring political leaders and boldest political reforms have emphasized the power and intelligence of individual citizens, rather than that of powerful private interests.
This tradition provides a fertile environment for the open source movement, which promotes the notion that innovation can only thrive when individuals are empowered.
In the 1920s, State Sen. George W. Joseph advocated for public ownership of the hydroelectric plants being planned on the Columbia River system.
In the 1960s, U.S. Sen. Wayne Morse dared to assert that the American people, more than the U.S. President, had the ability and responsibility to weigh in substantively on the Vietnam War and foreign policy
In recent years, State Sen. Vicki Walker has taken on some of the most powerful interests in the state in the interest of transparency and accountability to the public.
Oregon is known for pioneering the popular ballot initiative, public records laws, and an inclusive vote-by-mail system.
The culture established by Oregon’s thriving open source software community has much to offer in the areas of government and public policy, but it will take hard work to fully realize that potential.
Topic for discussion: how to describe/advocate for the civic-minded, crowd-sourced value that Oregonians can bring to government, and to improving the state outside the traditional structures of government?
Wiki Strategies, WikiProject Oregon
Pete Forsyth is a co-founder of Wiki Strategies, a consulting business offering services relating to Wikipedia and implementation of wikis, blogs, and social media software. He is also a founding member of WikiProject Oregon, which supports volunteer-based improvement of Oregon-related content on Wikipedia and other web sites; and of the Oregon Transparency Taskforce, which aims to develop and advocate policy proposals that permit ordinary citizens to participate in governing the state.
Pete assists and educates aspiring Wikipedians in making their best possible contribution to the encyclopedia, and has cultivated a sense of community and shared purpose. He has helped found and facilitate monthly and annual networking events, developed a group blog, and led initiatives to reach out to other organizations.
Pete is also engaged with politics on the local, statewide, and national level, and has managed statewide and countywide political campaigns. He proposed this year’s House Bill 3091, a bill which would remove copyright protections from works of the state government.