A Community Coming of Age

This was originally written for the MOSS Magazine Issue #1 (08 January, 2010), for the “/dev/null” column. I’m republishing it here so that it will be on the public web as well.

Originally written on 25 December, 2009 10:56 AM

It has been an year since this little community began to become active and solid, the community being Maldives Open Source Society (MOSS). This was because of activities which began in two waves. One which spawned off after the Google Groups mailing list was created back in December 2008 together with a post on the 2nd of January, 2009 titled “1st MOSS Meetup”, after the name was first coined in on the 27th of December, 2008. The second when the translation effort was taken for a spin on the 14th of April, 2009.

Since then most things have been discussed and come to terms through brainstorming and voting on the mailing list. This shows a strong tendency to keep things loosely coupled and in a very community oriented way with no special group of people deciding on the direction of it.

It was then decided to register MOSS as an NGO which was completed after a very long process on the 14th of July, 2009, which was a very joyful day for all of us since the legal aspects of our biddings can now be accepted, realized and accounted for. We held our first general assembly within the week on the 19th of July, 2009 and members for the steering committee were elected. The general assembly was held in the evening at Ameeniyya School and was attended to by one of the honorary members of the community as well as new faces.

We then went on to cater to some floating ideas here and there within the community together with working towards penetrating our cause within the government. By trying to convince the government to indicate equivalent opportunity for FLOSS in their software procurements, to mandating technical policies through the legislature. We introduced ourselves to the government’s technical bodies and the ministry that is concerned with, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Communication. A presentation was prepared by a core team and was presented to the decision making people of those bodies and explained what FLOSS is, along with the benefits it can bring to the government as well as the society at large by adopting emerging technologies which are being embraced by FLOSS.

We were awarded a pilot project to migrate a department to FLOSS and to prove to them the equivalent capabilities of FLOSS and as a test bed to find implications that may arise when it will be adopted government wide. It was a successful project and as with small implications. But in general the issues that were faced, were little compared to the value lost in terms of time and effort in managing commercial infrastructures.

Some plans on public events have not been much successful yet, but there was a little event on the 11th of July, 2009 which was “World Population Day 2009”. A mention about the possibility for MOSS to grab a stall from the event to promote as little as much of it’s cause drove a few to prepare for the event over night. It was a casual and a little event, but the members involved were able to connect with the children during the evening and convey a whole new dimension of possibility to them. We even got to promote the Edubuntu collection of educational applications and games and it was a huge attraction.

Software Freedom Day 2009 which is a global day celebrated amongst the FOSS communities for it’s name sake overwhelmed us and we ran out of time to completely prepare for it and to properly get organized. So it was not a successful endeavor but I’m sure it will be for real this year as most of our focus is on advocacy to foster awareness about our cause. We’re preparing for a public event soon, although I’m not exactly sure when that will be at the moment.

So that’s a very little bit about the history of MOSS this year wrapped up and briefly packed. What I would like say is that people are getting involved and we’re seeing new faces every once in a while. This is completely participatory and not compulsory. In this way, we’ll be able to grow and create an environment for people who’re born through software, whose lives are relative to the software they use and are able to share and contribute to that world in some way they can.

The best thing about the kind of community we are, is that regardless of the aspects of MOSS as an NGO, people are able to come along, relate to what they’re interested in, do they’re biddings and go away for a while. And if we’re able to see that pattern more often in a repetitive manner, I believe that MOSS as a community has come to foster.