Open sourcing Australia: OpenAustralia.org goes live

Australia has made its parliamentary proceedings available in an open website constructed with open-source software.

It seems reasonable to suggest that no nation should cede its sovereignty to any private, commercial interest . Not without careful consideration and serious safeguards. It also seems reasonable to suggest that governments should interact with their constituents in an open, transparent manner, in both the media they use and the technologies used to convey their policies, laws, and debates.

Though reasonable, few governments actually do this. Well, Australia just took a big step toward ensuring that not only are its Parliamentary debates and proceedings free to the public in terms of cost, they are also free to the public in terms of freedom.

The project that accomplishes this, OpenAustralia.org, has been completely done with open-source software, available here.

Larry Lessig argues that "code is law," meaning that the very software we use to construct the Internet, intranets, etc. has a powerful effect on what is actually possible through these communication media. A closed architecture can have a profoundly deleterious effect on freedom, both in the political sense and in the practical sense. On Microsoft's software I can do what Microsoft allows. On open software...? I determine my destiny.

It is therefore important that Australia opted for open-source software in capturing the mind and history of its parliament. This is what sovereign nations do. Or, at least, it's what they should do.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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