Rationale

Why open source?

The problem with closed systems

It’s necessary for any IT system, particularly one with a long intended life-span, that it should be adaptable to future and changing needs, and able to keep pace with technological developments. If it isn’t, it will soon become obsolete.

If developing, maintaining and adapting a system can only be achieved by its supplier, then its users are locked in - beholden - to the supplier.

This lock-in may matter less for wealthy users, but for those with fewer resources, such a future burden is hard to bear. Even if the system is a generous gift, it’s a gift with a cost.

The world’s least wealthy nations can least afford to invest in, or even accept gifts of, IT systems and infrastructure projects that lock them in.

Open source options provide a way for them to own and develop their own systems and projects, and to take charge of off-the-shelf systems that they adopt, or become participants in the wider communities that maintain them.

The problem with closed languages, architectures and environments...

The tools with which and the environments in which systems are created also matter. A closed platform can be used to develop an open source system, but its owners will still remain locked-in to the tools and the platform, and tied to their future.

Open source environments, languages and development frameworks make total ownership of software possible.

Cost and sustainability

The comparatively low cost of open source systems lowers the bar to acquisition and participation.

If a developing nation is to develop the skillset required to create and maintain software that meets its own needs, it will need to educate and train its own software developers, equipping schools and universities with systems it can afford and can afford to maintain in the future.

Open source systems make it possible to create a virtuous circle of sustainable investment.

Why Python?

Python is a modern general-purpose language, used throughout the world in everything from embedded systems to large-scale infrastructures. Python is free open source software.

Python has its roots in education, and was conceived in part as a language for computer science teaching. These roots manifest themselves in the way it emphasises simplicity and clarity, making it a particularly easy language to learn and being using productively.

As well as being favoured in education, Python’s connections with education have helped build around it a valuable ecosystem and culture that support new learners of the language.

The worldwide Python community

Again partly through its roots in education, the Python culture and community are very welcoming of new learners, and informed by a genuine ethos of friendliness and mutual support. This ethos is exemplified in the behaviour of the worldwide Python community, for example in the very strong codes of conduct that are adopted by PyCons, and the tenor of online communication within it.

The Python community’s spirit of generosity and its concerted engagement with questions of diversity within IT help make Python an especially appropriate choice for a conference of the kind proposed.