Free and Open Source Software and Technology for Sustainable Development

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Free and open source software (FOSS) technologies transcend geographical and cultural boundaries to usher in a new paradigm where volunteers collaboratively develop software for the commons. The political economy of FOSS technologies has far-reaching implications because of the centrality of information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D). The global trend in the diffusion and adoption of FOSS technologies is a testimony to the socio-economic and technological impact the software has for both developed and developing economies. While FOSS development, education and business potentials may appear as a phenomenon for the developed world, a sizable number of developing countries have undertaken bold measures to bring about innovation, sustainable ICT development and technology independence.



Development NGOs as potential groups for expansion of FOSS: The case of Iran

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are striving hard in many developing countries, particularly Iran, to prove they can be regarded as one of the stakeholders in sustainable development. Thousands of NGOs have been established and officially registered in various fields. In certain areas such as poverty reduction, NGOs play a facilitating role. In other areas such as health, education and environmental protection they are involved in awareness raising, information campaigns, advocacy and training. Some NGOs carry out research activities while trying to run advocacy for sustainable development. NGOs need technology to attain their goals, so free and open source software (FOSS) can be very useful for them because of cost-effectiveness, legality, improved stability, licensing conditions, avoidance of technology lock-in, increased organizational flexibility, enhanced cooperative culture, extension of the lifespan of existing hardware and reduction of waste (especially from the environmental point of view) and ability to attract high-level skills at low costs. A major question is how much NGOs in Iran know about and use FOSS, and how much it is helping them in achieving their goals. There is sparse literature on the issue beyond sporadic interviews and articles.


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