Daily archives: April 5, 2012

Can Open Source alter and potentially remove the concept of unemployment in the UK? – London 03/05/12 1

The BCS Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) will be holding an event at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA (http://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/london-office-guide.pdf) on Thurssday 3rd May 2012, from 1800 to 2100 hours exploring the question: Can Open Source alter and potentially remove the concept of unemployment in the UK?

This bookable event is free and open to all with buffet and refreshments. To book a place to attend please email Mark Elkins at mark_elkins@bcs.org

Background Argument/Proposition
For some time now in the United Kingdom (UK) and many other advanced economic nations there have been high levels of unemployment. This means that a large number of people are simply not able to exchange their labour for monetary wages. There are many problems associated with this phenomenon such as higher crime rates, serious health problems, low self-esteem, and a general feeling of not being part of society.

So what can Open Source activity do about this? In the first instance might it not be acceptable to suggest that those unemployed in the traditional sense could still add to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by being involved in Open Source software projects? Therefore in an unconventional sense they might be seen as employed. At the very least such involvement with Open Source software projects might help in making individuals feel of value to society. It might also be suggested that this idea fits with David Cameron’s Big Society concept in that the opportunity is there through Open Source to produce benefits for society through voluntary activity.

Another possibly way Open Source could alter the concept of unemployment is that people engaged with the Open Source community are in fact keeping their skills up to date. Such opportunity probably would not be possible in the traditional world of employment simply because unemployment offers no chance to practice skills in such a meaningful way. Better still the unemployed can engage in ‘cutting-edge’ innovative Open Source projects that push forward technological boundaries. In the traditional world of business, ‘spin-offs’ from such projects might well lead to increased employment opportunities as indeed could the resulting interaction between the unemployed and business working in partnership.

Alternatively if Open Source software coding brought about by open collaboration can solve problems then perhaps Open Source activity might be able to crack economic and social code to bring about solutions to reduce or even eradicate unemployment.

The Speakers

Mark Elkins, Chair, BCS Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG)

Gerry Gavigan, Chair, Open Source Consortium (OSC), http://www.opensourceconsortium.org

Michael Judd, Akuna Group, http://www.akunagroup.com