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2/2/2004
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For Clark, Open Source Is Product Of Compressed Schedule

The Democratic presidential candidate's tech staff says it embraced open-source systems partly because of Clark's late entry into the race.

Technology was a big part of Wesley Clark's campaign long before he decided in mid-September to seek the presidency. Several supporters had used the Internet to organize efforts to persuade him to run.

Since then, his full-time tech team has grown to more than 20. In December, the campaign brought its open-source projects under the umbrella of TechCorps, its first releases an events organizer, a voter identification tool and community networking software.

Campaign technologists say their embrace of open-source systems--with their scheduling flexibility--was driven partly by the campaign's compressed timetable, as Clark was the last to declare.

Cameron Barrett, 30, a pioneer of the Web journal format known as blogs, helped rewrite the open-source program Scoop to power discussion groups. The campaign plans to add photo galleries and instant messaging.

Clark technologists have looked into using latitude and longitude data, perhaps to generate customized maps to polling locations. They have plans for Clarkster, a tool modeled after Friendster for connecting supporters--say, everyone who raised $500 can form an ad hoc group.

Many of the technologists were initially involved with the draft-Clark movements, and many knew one another before. Josh Lerner, the technology director, was Barrett's roommate and one-time boss; programmer Leonard Richardson, 24, worked with Barrett at CollabNet Inc.

David Mason, 34, said the all-nighters remind him of his early days at a high-tech startup, Red Hat Inc., which packages the open-source Linux operating system.

Despite the technologists' affinity for open source, however, many of Clark's computers still run on the proprietary Windows operating system, with a few Macs scattered here and there.

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