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The Open Imperative asks you to commit to using free/libre/open source (FLO) solutions whenever possible and helps you access the solutions you need to do what you want. We only recommend software that we've used before and love, but we suggest you try as many FLO solutions as you can and tell us about it.

Here are some great places to find FLO solutions:


Local Software

  • The Ubuntu operating system
  • Firefox for web browsing
  • Thunderbird (Outlook Alternative) for email management
  • Open Office (Microsoft Office alternative) for documents, presentations and spreadsheet
  • GIMP (Adobe Photoshop alternative) for image manipulation
  • Inkscape (Adobe Illustrator alternative) for vector graphics
  • Lightworks for video editting
  • Blender for 3D content creation
  • Filezilla for FTP file transfers
  • R Project for statistical computing and research analysis

Server Software

  • Wordpress for individual and group blogging
  • Joomla for websites that require a more extendable content management system (CMS)
  • Drupal for users with more technological expertise.
  • PHPList for simple email campaign management
  • CiviCRM for enterprise grade constituent relationship management.
  • EtherPad is a collaborative document generator similar to google docs.
  • TiddleWiki is an expandable wiki and notebook contained in a single HTML file.
  • MediaWiki is the software that runs Wikipedia and is the most popular type of wiki.
  • Mailman helps manage electronic mail discussion and e-newsletter lists.


The Community Information Toolkit will help community leaders like you harness the power of information to advance their goals for a better community. It offers a process and a simple, easy-to-use set of tools to help you take stock of your community’s news and information flow and take action to improve it.

Federated Decision Making Model

Eclipse's Participation Guide


One Approach

1) Post idea to mailing list. Get it hacked/hashed out. 2) Post to blog once idea has gelled a bit 3) Move blog post to wiki page for future editing by myself or others 4) Refer to said wiki link over and over in future discussions.

EmergentByDesign discusses effective Twitter usage

Releasing a "Memex"

OPEN ORGANIZATIONS is one of many initiatives that attempt to propose solutions to this problem. It is focused on elaborating a concrete framework for action.

Delphi method is a structured communication technique, originally developed as a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of experts.

Deliberative Dialog questions take the form "What should we do?" The purpose is not so much to solve a problem or resolve an issue as to explore the most promising avenues for action.

Disagreement by Deletion vs. Disagreement by Addition (basically censorship vs. open discussion)

Consensus Polling (vs. vote aggregation, i.e. competitive voting)

Deliberative Democracy

Decision making for open enterprise is an open google doc for collaboration of the issue

Dadamac Note on the issue

"The top level ontology/taxonomy required is about the same across all disciplines and use-cases. Roughly: people/groups/organizations, projects/problems/issues, capabilities/resources/needs. Within some or all of these top-level categories there are already well-developed sub-ontologies/taxonomies." -Poor Richard, Next Net Group

More Stuff

"Five Strategies to Revive Civic Communication" A White Paper on the Civic Engagement Recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy

Good slide set on "Municipal Open Government Framework - A Work in Progress" theme: "government as a platform" and - good starting points for stuff from Steven Clift - probably the most knowledgeable and effective practitioner in the "e-government" space (this is someone who actually has a track record of bringing government, the media, and citizenry to the table for real civic dialog leading to real change)

Pretty much anything at (page headline: "What does it take to make democracy <> work as it should?")

Some more good resources that focus on the interplay between organizations-as-they-are, and new technologies and approaches.

The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative does some good work at the interface of crisis response and new technologies: - home page

A particularly excellent report on experiences and lessons learned as volunteer technical groups interacted with traditional humanitarian agencies: - highlights the very real issues that occur when folks, all with the best intention, try to deal with chaotic situations, under pressure - probably the most serous, real-world laboratory for "collaboration systems"

On a broader focus (including political situations, like Iran), they have this one: "New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts"

On the more narrow focus of standing up a network, in a disaster zone (in this case post-Katrina): Hastily Formed Networks for Complex Humanitarian Disasters

After-action report from the Strong Angel 3 exercise - where a bunch of folks who'd been to Katrina, Haiti, etc. ran a disaster-response exercise focusing on technology issues:

Newsletter from the GSA of all people, on "Government by Collaboration" - with lots of good contributed articles:


EU Commissioner Erkki Liikanen: "Open standards are important to help create interoperable and affordable solutions for everybody. They also promote competition by setting up a technical playing field that is level to all market players. This means lower costs for enterprises and, ultimately, the consumer." (World Standards Day, 14 October 2003) [29]

Jorma Ollila, Chairman of Nokia's Board of Directors: "... Open standards and platforms create a foundation for success. They enable interoperability of technologies and encourage innovativeness and healthy competition, which in turn increases consumer choice and opens entirely new markets," (,[30] 2006)

W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee: "The decision to make the Web an open system was necessary for it to be universal. You can't propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it." [31]

In the opening address of the The Southern African Telecommunications Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) 2005, then Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena stressed need for open standards in ICT:[32]

[...] The tsunami that devastated South Eastern Asian countries and the north-eastern parts of Africa, is perhaps the most graphic, albeit unfortunate, demonstration of the need for global collaboration, and open ICT standards. The incalculable loss of life and damage to property was exacerbated by the fact that responding agencies and non-governmental groups were unable to share information vital to the rescue effort. Each was using different data and document formats. Relief was slowed, and coordination complicated. [...]

F] A woman went to a market and saw two jars. She asked the vendor for the price:: “ten coins”, he answered. The woman was surprised: “but one of these jars has been painted by an artist!” The vendor replied: ” I am selling jars. Beauty has no price.” Paul Coelho