DPSX @ DrupalCon Barcelona

As a digital activist I want a forum that brings together individuals from private, public and the third sectors, to share ideas, address issues of waste, service improvements, development and innovation in the delivery of front line public services so that we can collectively work towards the betterment of public services.

Between the day job, give back and the fam little time remains for anything else, none other the DPSX initiative (now in its 4th year) has suffered because of it. After an epic turnout at Prague, completely forgetting to schedule it’s BoF in Amsterdam, I got in early on making it happen at DrupalCon Barcelona and it paid off, perhaps a gap year had built up an appetite for it.

DPSX-BoF-Dcon-Barcelona-02 Anyhow the attendance was epic; we had four continents represented and discussions focused on issues faced by industry and the public sector in sourcing, adoption and innovation of open source content management systems. A huge thank you to the attendees:  Alex BlandfordChris SkeneKristoffer SoderlundJohasn Du BoisChris Hartigan,  Andrew HoppinSuchi GargHolger KreisTom Dean.

The news from Australia was both good and bad, whilst the Australian government is spearheading adoption with the GovCMS distribution, efforts are we were told loosing steam as the distribution in its current form is quite restrictive requiring significant customisation by individual departments adopting it. The question is why fork it? why not modularise it? having said that I am too far removed from the ground to comment on it, as such have reached out to my colleagues and the community in Australia to shed some light on the matter and shall keep update this post as and when I hear back from down under.

The news from home (UK) was a mixed bag too, whilst G-cloud is working for central government the word is it isn’t working so well for the local government (councils) and is being exploited by big corps for labour arbitrage. There were names mentioned (the usual suspects), large central gov contractors who outsource their wins to the smaller co’s in the eco-system which goes against premise for G-cloud to be set up in the first place.

Though there is truth in the big corps abusing G-cloud via labour arbitrage the SMEs have to share some of the blame too, there is a dearth of experienced Drupal resources and should the SMEs choose to they can set their own terms and put a dent in the exploitation we were so passionately informed of. Yes yes I hear you, they are not exactly a digital OPEC but then they are not powerless either.

The message here has to be ‘do more for all concerned’; GDS should do more to ensure local government (councils) have the train, skill sets and tools necessary to make the most of G-Cloud. Local government ought to conduct regular retrospectives on their success and failures using G-cloud or other means of sourcing and course correct their approach so that they can up-skill their procurement departments, cut unnecessary red tape and do more to encourage bidding and procurement from local SMEs.

As for curbing the big corps abusing their position and exploiting SMEs, GDS could improve monitoring down stream resourcing to ensure its not a marked up pass-through.

As for the challenges of contribs back to the community, central governments ought to make it mandatory for government departments to contribute back to the community (with exceptions for good reasons of course). To this end one single legislative change can transform the ecosystem from the ground up. A law for corps who provide frontline Public services, who as a service provider must make the data available for free (or a capped transaction fee) via standardised APIs to all actors in the ecosystem following the Open API principles. However it is clear that corporate service providers will need to be pushed towards Open Data principles and in making our data more widely available to prospective service providers to encourage innovation in the ecosystem.

As a tax payer I want companies who provide frontline public services to make the data they gather in the provision of such services available through Open APIs to other actors in the ecosystem, so that such actors can utilise that data to provide new and innovative services to the public. Last but not the least and a regular topic of discussion at DPSX meetups is cross border service development and waste, as expected it was raised at the DCon Barca BoF too. The issues remain the same as they did a few years ago, as do the candidates options to addressing the challenges, some of them have been touched upon above, other’s I think we’ll keep for future meetups, which brings me to my new year’s resolution! more and regular DPSX meetups and that is going to be possible since a few folks from the community have agreed to get involved and share the load as and when need be, for that I’d like to thank Farez Rahman and Mark Taylor, thank you gentlemen.

DPSX-Register-now-EventBrite-2015 So the next meet up is scheduled for 13th January 2016 at Google Campus in London from 18:00 to 19:30, we don’t have any speakers as yet but that will change closer to the time, shall be reaching out to them lovely folks at GDS and DHUK and shall keep you posted of their likely attendance. In the mean time if Drupal and OS in the Public Sector is of interest to you please sign up for the meetup here and see you in the new year!

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Agile for Peace – Scrum Alliance Regional Gathering South Asia

South_east_asia It is a privilege to be provided with an opportunity to share with the Agile Scrum community what has been an experimental journey for the past 4 odd years applying Agile methodologies to social transformation projects in hard and occasionally hostile environments.

What started off as a micro-fail experiment by Peace Through Prosperity to ‘see if it works’ has in true Agile fashion evolved into a successful program of socioeconomic transformation with a strong emphasis on preventing radicalisation or the slide to the far right. From the get go the ambition has been to open source it and engage individual communities across the third rock to embrace the program, modify it for the nuances of their community and environment so that we can as a large collective lift many if not all of the 99% out of poverty and out of harms way (for us harm is the mass non-violent radicalisation of the populous by any far right movement religious, political or otherwise).

However Open sourcing it hasn’t been all that easy! its wasn’t the program, the methodology or the underlying ethos of Peace Through Prosperity’s work, rather the challenge has been finding willing individuals as partners to approach, embrace and take the program to their own communities. 

Agile for peace Scrum Alliance Meet up Back in January 2015 we had that breakthrough, when Raju from Chennai contacted me enquiring about how Peace Through Prosperity’s been using Agile in non-tech projects and whats the secret sauce for Boundaryless Agile – the conversation lead to exploring taking the Peace Through Prosperity model from Karachi, Pakistan to Triupati, Andra Pradesh in India. As a starter for ten Raju kindly invited me to speak at the Chennai Scrum Meetup which of course coincided with the ICC World Cup match between India and Pakistan; we dubbed it ‘Agile for Peace’ and you can watch the talk here 

The next natural step was introducing the program and approach to local Agile practitioners and aficionados and start exploring the migration process for exporting the Peace Through Prosperity program across the border. The Scrum Alliance Regional Gathering in India seemed like the most apt place to reach out to local and regional practitioners, particularly given the theme for the year ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which I am told stands for ’The World as one Family’, something that resonates very strongly with Peace Through Prosperity’s community ethos ‘for the 99% by the 99%’, and so it was decided, Raju and me submitted a session for the Scrum Alliance Regional Gathering; ‘Transforming Lives Using Agile & Scrum’ and here we are!  

The only down-er has been my inability to secure a visa to India in time to be presenting in person, I have been informed I travel a lot to countries of ‘interest’ and therefore processing a visa for me takes longer than usual! Though the lack of a visa won’t be keeping me from co-presenting (Goto Meeting Zindabad!) it will be keeping me from meeting some awesome folks from the Agile community in India that I have been in touch with over the past 3-4 months! but friends we shall right that wrong soon!

Raju and my joint presentation can be viewed below, a complete guide to tailoring and migrating the Peace Through Prosperity program will be posted up on my blog soon too and do keep pulse on how the Peace Through Prosperity program fares in Triupati, and lastly thank you to Scrum Alliance User Group in India for the opportunity to share this with the Agile Community. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam!

 

Transforming lives using agile – Scrum Alliance Regional Gathering South Asia 2015 from Kubair Shirazee

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Drupal Camp Tunis 2015 – Call to Action

Drupal-Tunisia-logo-3 Speaking to Willie Seabrook took me back to 2011-2012 when a few of us were trying to get Drupalists in Pakistan to morph into a local community, connect with the regional and global Drupal community and reap the benefits that come from the wisdom of the crowd. Willie is doing for Tunisian Drupal community what I did for the Pakistani Drupal community 3  odd years ago. I empathise with Willie’s, he’s got a task and a half ahead of him and we cannot not lend a hand… right!

Growing an OS community in any ecosystem leads to growth, opportunities, creation of jobs and wealth. Simply put it leads to socioeconomic transformation of the landscape be it a niche at a time. Such transformations are much needed in developing economies with high rates of youth unemployment, demographics skewed on the younger side and a shed load of socioeconomic challenges, simply put these are states for whom the stakes are very high.

Tunisia is one such ecosystem, with a high rate of unemployment amongst youth and women, economic grievances festering and successive caretaker governments busy fire fighting as opposed to nation building.

As activists, technologists and OS evangelists we can help! Willie’s motivations for establishing a vibrant Drupal community in Tunisia and North Africa are aligned with my own and with those of Peace Through Prosperity’s though targeted at a different category of entrepreneurs.

Tunisia produces more than 65,000 multilingual graduates a year, 61% of whom are women, 30% of these graduates are majoring in engineering, imagine the possibilities for transformation in Tunisia with significant uptake of Drupal and OS  platforms. Uptake of OS platforms by the Tunisian government could mean reduced cost of ownership of systems, more money to invest in public facing services, hopefully more digital governmental services, increased transparency, accountability…. and more… eventually.

As for why North Africa or Tunisia matters? because its part of our wider ecosystem, there is economic and political strife there that we should empathise with at some level and contribute what ever we can to support agents of change in that part of the 3rd rock.

What the nascent local community has achieved in the last 3 years arguably in isolation is phenomenal!  Willie and a few local enthusiasts have taken this enormous task upon themselves and have to date:

Drupal Camp Tunis is being held on the 30th of May 2015 and the asks from the global community are: DC Tunis needs speakers, you can skype in, hangout or fly in for a short break in Tunis, as with any nascent community they need financial support to grow the community and beyond the camp itself, perhaps virtual mentors. My call to action for friends, acquaintances and absolute strangers from the Drupal communities on the third rock is to extend whatever support you comfortably can; be it a speaking slot on Saturday 30th May, sponsor the event or a part of… if we all give a little push we can get the transformational wheels rolling a lot faster in Tunis and the region… and won’t that be nice.

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The Right is Rising – Regressive Transformation

Far-Right-Parties-2015 The world is going to shit and shit is moving closer to home.

An anti-fascist, anti-establishment institution that laid bare the ills, evils and warts in society gets attacked by a fascist group further strengthening the rise of fascists in Europe and beyond.

Opportunistic politicians from across the spectrum jump on the opportunity to make currency out of another atrocity, what Charlie Hebdo stands for finds itself under attack… again by monsters after the fact.

They are getting closer and closer…. fascists in all shapes and guises, in the name of God, colour, ethnicity, liberty, pushing fascist wares at us. Working hard to convince us to build walls and burn bridges for the sake of our own safety.

Tweet-Rupert-Murdoch-Controverisla_Rowling_is_just_one_of_many_celebrities_politician-a- Divisions and inequality are the seeds sowed by our ancestors whose bitter fruits we reap, we talk of an unwillingness to integrate, but what have we done to facilitate that journey for 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations of migrants who were shipped in for cheap labor and pushed to the fringes once they had served their purpose. Or for that matter the indigenous inhabitants who got marginalised by the arrival of the outsiders.

Our social framework is geared to consume and discard, it is broken.

Ghettos-and-Greed-Quote Be it Berlin, Bradford, Paris, Lille or London there exist ghettos of discontent and marginalisation, not limited to a single brand of God, ethnicity or colour. Breeding grounds for purveyors of darkness and monstrosity, again not limited to a single brand of God, ethnicity or colour.

Fascism in all its guises is on the rise, one feeding of another. Lets be careful of the narratives we buy into; those that break down the walls, uproot the inequality and divisions that risk setting us back a century, the darkness our ancestors fought against not too long ago.

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Security of our homeland begins abroad

Across every forum I have had the opportunity to speak on this subject, be it the Agile Business Conference in London, Digibury in Cantebury, Palace of Westminster, numerous technology camps across Eurasia or Starbucks (the usual rendezvous for the curious) the message has always been …security of our homeland begins abroad. It was hence reassuring to hear our Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr Philip Hammond utter those exact words this week during the 10th Manama Dialogue Regional Security Summit organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in the Bahraini capital Manama.

However Mr Hammond’s vision for its implementation is a Universe apart from our own, though Mr Hammond has got it right that the security of the “homeland” began abroad his means to achieve it as history has repeatedly proven are going to be ineffective. To protect Britain and British interests our foreign policy needs to pivot away from building military bases and putting our troops on the ground to prop up unpopular regimes.

Transformation will happen Mr Hammond, choose wisely as to how you invest our taxes abroad. Be it the Middle East, North Africa, Sahel,  Afghanistan, Central or South Asia; every society is transforming from the bottom up and from the top down. The populous is seeking progressive change whilst the top is seeking ways to maintain the status quo, our foreign policy must embrace the transformation being driven from the bottom up for that is where the war for hearts and minds will be won or lost, that is where the 99% will see us as their friends or as the enemy that worked with their corrupt and oppressive regimes; prolonging the inevitable.

Middle Britain needs to think hard but not for too long. Do we want our taxes spent on the protection and preservation of unpopular regimes or do we want to contribute towards a future state where Britain is part of the solution and not the problem.

Security of the homeland will not come from the expansion of our military complex in distant lands, it will come from prosperity of the masses of those distant lands who remain disenfranchised.


What a difference Digitally Lead, Agile Designed, Open Sourced Social Transformation Makes from Peace Through Prosperity on Vimeo

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