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Open Software Challenge Nepal 2009- A leap ahead

Back at the turn of the century, outsourcing was not much of a global phenomenon as it is today, and businesses and governments alike were skeptic of transferring bulk of their IT works to the other side of the world. Outsourcing has now flattened the world to a large extent, and is playing a pivotal role in bridging the digital as well as economic divide among the developed and the developing countries.

But outsourcing sounds so 2003, and the technological advances continue to leap forward like never before. With the proliferation of internet to the masses, the skill set and infrastructure that traditionally demarked the professional and the amateur are only getting blurrier. Encyclopedias were traditionally thought of as the playing fields for a few experts, but Wikipedia, with over 2.5 million articles (and growing) online, has taken the task of content creation, refining and ownership to the mass. Wikipedia has fuzzed the difference between content producer and consumer, and an increasing number of readers on Wikipedia now share their knowledge to further enhance the content. YouTube and Flickr have extended what Wikipedia has done to content to video and images. Any enthusiast can now get her hands wet by writing an article, producing a video or clicking an image without any upfront investment, and have the whole world review her work. Social Networks and Web 2.0 technologies have only extended this further, as is evidenced by tens of thousands of music albums in MySpace and the number of applications written for Facebook. From GPS to search engine, entrepreneurs are always coming up with new ways to come up with creative business ideas that harness the contribution from the mass. Crowdsourcing is now the buzz.

The idea of open source development is rooted on the fundamentals of crowdsourcing. Eric Raymond, in his 1999 essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar, formulated his proposition “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. The observation came from the development methodology of the Linux operating system. Linux is credited to firmly establish the open source development methodology as a viable and practical mode of software development. Software gurus of the 1990s were doubtful of the idea that the complex act of developing software could be executed by a largely distributed pool of developers without central chain of command and control. The idea that self motivated people will contribute time and effort for the development of open source software with no immediate return was also highly discredited. But this has already been proven wrong by the vast number of successful projects contributed by open source developers in the past years. Almost all proprietary software have open source equivalents now, and open source software range from small utilities to Operating Systems and Banking solutions.

Realizing the benefits of Open Source Software and its potential to shape the IT landscape of Nepal, D2hawkeyeServices started its initiative in that direction from mid 2007, primary inspirations coming from its CTO Rudra Pandey. A collaborative platform, D2Labs, was set up and D2HS’s employees were encouraged to register and execute projects in D2Labs. But for a myriad of reasons, the concept failed to generate mass interest and only a dozens of projects were registered and delivered through D2Labs. The platform has since been used regularly by IOE final year students for their project.

To speed up the adaptation of D2Labs and to increase public awareness on the impact of collaborative open source development on the community and individual developers, D2HS has come up with the Open Software Challenge Nepal 2009. The challenge is primarily targeted towards IT students and professionals, and is expected to trigger a movement towards the adaptation of open source philosophies and standards among the students and professionals in Nepal.  The contest is currently in proposal submission phase, and deadline to submit proposal ends on the 19th of Feb, 2009.

We encourage all IT enthusiasts and developers to actively participate in this mega event in whatever event you can. D2HawkeyeServices is co-organizing this event with Institute of Engineering, and D2Labs is the hosting platform for the contest. FOSS Nepal is an organizing partner, reflecting the interest of the open source community in the event.

For any queries and concerns for the contest, please write to oscn@d2labs.org.