There are many flavors of Open, but specifically in Sweden there is with the new E-Delegationen a big confusion. Again. Even people that should know better talk for example about Open Source and Open Standards not only at the same meeting, but in the same sentences.
There is a big difference! The government has an investigation explaining it, and it was released in 2007. I also wrote about that investigation here. So why are people still confused? Well, they have not read the report of course, but someone involved must know about the report, right? And they should just say stop. There must be progress, and not rehashing of the same issues over and over again.
The most important thing is the use of Open Standards. What exactly is an Open Standard can be discussed, as it is done in the report. But the details does not matter much now. With standards it is possible to do procurement and reference a shared communication protocol. And if the RFP and the standard both are good enough, then that will lead to interoperability, competition, innovation and effective choice for the buyer.
The second important thing is not open source, but open information. That information that is collectively collected should be available. A view I share with my friend Carl Malamud as I explained earlier in my blog. We have specifically in Sweden not understood the great impact the new legislation in various countries in the world have had. We have good legislation in Sweden regarding access to various public records, and thanks to those great Web2.0 applications can be created, for example Jobbkartan or Flygradar.
But Lantmäteriverket and SMHI are my favorite examples of agencies paid by tax payers money that refuse to give the raw data away. They should allow competition regarding creating services using the data they have created. Sure, that will most certainly imply the cross subsidy that today might happen from the value added service to the collection process of data.
Cross subsidy between revenue sources an entity has does not work in the longer run. The only kind of entity that can do so is the public sector that collect tax payers money, and distribute on whatever they feel they should spend money on. The problem is that the public sector in this case does not understand what services private sector can do. Public sector should concentrate on becoming a good buyer of whatever services (added value) they want, and pay for it. More transparent than having the only entity that hold the data try to invent. Invention never happens in isolation. Competition drives innovation.
Finally Open Source. Why is it not so important? Well, it is important, but it will win in a procurement process if it is the best solution. Saying explicit yes or no to solutions because they include open source products is bad. Allowing competition also here between open source and closed source (and various licensing terms) is important.
As long as there is a base definition of what open standards are in use.