ZDNet blogger Conz offers up a radical yet thought-provoking idea: Instead of paying for software, shouldn’t public schools actually be billing software vendors for the right to place their wares and branding in front of millions of students? "Much like television and radio stations offer up a bidding system to advertisers who want to capture the eyes and ears of the ‘audience,’ schools could operate a bidding process where vendors bid for accessing students’ attention for their software," he writes. The idea not only would reduce the software costs to schools by hundreds of millions of dollars, but also might cover the costs involved for hardware, networking, and support. "Imagine … if a whole generation of school kids was raised on Linux and open-source software," he writes. "Imagine what that would do to the current proprietary vendors who enjoy a stranglehold in certain platform and application market segments. Imagine again how much said vendors would pay to ensure that never happens. And now you can begin to understand the incredible leverage that … school boards and departments of education have. And yet, they do nothing with that power."

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