Opening Sourcing the Obama Back Office Code

Logo of Open Source Initiative

It looks like the Obama team will scrap their back office code rather than open source it.  Some of the software engineers complain that the less technical minded Democrats fear its use outside donkey’s tent.  I doubt that is the real reason.

The are many more logical reasons to abandon the code:    

  • Code is expensive maintain.

  Sorry engineers, systems cost a lot of money and open source doesn’t make it much less costly.  The Dems would still have to pay good money for someone to watch over the project, even if it is open sourced.  What makes the problem worse is its niche status and as such it has little chance for improvement.  Local candidates don’t even have the resources to operate these the tools let alone update the code and there are too few with the millions necessary to operate such a beast.

  • Data over technology.  Data is the life blood of any organization, political opportunist or no.  The technology team should document their design, so that in two years, the next group can hit the ground running with the better tools we’ll have invented.
  • People over technology.  What gave Obama the edge is he had really smart quants analyzing the data.  Having good technology makes it easier for users, but brainy people analyzing data for information is way more important.
  • Process over technology.  How a team decides to put all the processes and work flows together is more important than the user interface or any block of code.  This is likely the real reason it will never to see the light of day. 
  • Despite this, I do side with the software developers.  I’d like the code freed and see what they came up with and how it works.  I bet the design methods are the true innovations and I could see why the Obama team is a little leery about giving that competitive advantage away.