Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Mon, 05 Jan 2004
More on decentralized communities
Scoble kicked off a thread about decentralized communities, saying
I think a community that is decentralized is stronger than one that's centralized.
I agree. But it's not only about blogs. Open source projects are also decentralized communities. All the goodness of decentralized community applied to the task of software development.

There are a number of things that are all mixed together under the open source label.

  1. Licensing / availability of source code
  2. Charging for software or services around software -- Get Robert Lefkowitz to explain the Islamic notion of Sharia law, and you'll get over the notion that "it's free"
  3. Community based/distributed/decentralized software development
  4. Whether or not people working on software get paid to do it or not -- note that this is separate question from whether we charge money for the software.
So, there are at least four degrees of freedom here. If you accept that these notions are all hiding under that label, then you see that there is room to move the sliders on each of these dimensions. There's room for experimentation / variation, etc.

Earlier today, Dave Winer posted on the topic of getting paid to work on software. I obviously agree that this is important, since I'm getting paid to work at OSAF. But we are going to make the source code available, we are not going to charge users for it, annd we want to do community based/distributed/decentralized software development. We've moved some of the sliders. Will it work? We don't know for sure, but it's an experiment worth doing.

Dave also pointed to Jim Fawcette's editorial on open source. As I've posted before, I agree that it's time to stop copying -- actually its easy to say, because we've almost run out of stuff to copy. So now we get to find out whether or not an alternate model of building software can produce something innovative. But that aside, I have a different explanation for what's been happening. Everyone whines about how Microsoft can innovate faster because they control the OS/platform, have access to all those hidden system calls, etc. It's called standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before. So over the last n years of copying, the open source community almost has a decent platform that it totally controls.

Why does this matter? Go look at Tim O'Reilly's wishlist for 2004 and look at his wish for Dashboard. Nat and friends were able to implement Dashboard and instrument all the important Dashboard apps in a few weeks before OSCon. True, Nat had been working on some of the code sporadically since February, so if you want to, you can call it 6 months. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you can make these kinds of changes much faster when you have the source to the whole system.

The better question to ask is why haven't any other people from the teeming open source hordes stepped up to finish the job that Nat and the other Dashboard hackers started. After all, it's open source, right? I don't have a good explanation for that, but if someone is looking for a cool, innovative open source project to get involved with, they should go help Nat finish it. And when you're done, then the community can go on to do any of a number of interesting experiments on top of the Dashboard code base -- try doing that with a shrink wrapped no source code product. Much as I like Mac OS X, Safari and Mail.app won't be speaking in Dashboard packets in the next 6 months.

[22:46] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
You can subscribe to an RSS feed of the comments for this blog: RSS Feed for comments

Add a comment here:

You can use some HTML tags in the comment text:
To insert a URI, just type it -- no need to write an anchor tag.
Allowable html tags are: <a href>, <em>, <i>, <b>, <blockquote>, <br/>, <p>, <code>, <pre>, <cite>, <sub> and <sup>.

You can also use some Wiki style:
URI => [uri title]
<em> => _emphasized text_
<b> => *bold text*
Ordered list => consecutive lines starting spaces and an asterisk





Remember my info?

twl JPG


Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Now available!
Professional XML Development with Apache Tools : Xerces, Xalan, FOP, Cocoon, Axis, Xindice
Technorati Profile
PGP Key Fingerprint
My del.icio.us Bookmarks
My Flickr Photos

RSS 2.0 xml GIF
Comments (RSS 2.0) xml GIF
Atom 0.3 feed
Feedburner'ed RSS feed

< January 2004 >
     1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 910


Macintosh Tips and Tricks

Blogs nearby
geourl PNG

/ (1567)
  books/ (33)
  computers/ (62)
    hardware/ (15)
    internet/ (58)
      mail/ (11)
      microcontent/ (58)
      weblogs/ (174)
        pyblosxom/ (36)
      www/ (25)
    open_source/ (145)
      asf/ (53)
      osaf/ (32)
        chandler/ (35)
        cosmo/ (1)
    operating_systems/ (16)
      linux/ (9)
        debian/ (15)
        ubuntu/ (2)
      macosx/ (101)
        tips/ (25)
      windows_xp/ (4)
    programming/ (156)
      clr/ (1)
      dotnet/ (13)
      java/ (71)
        eclipse/ (22)
      lisp/ (34)
      python/ (86)
      smalltalk/ (4)
      xml/ (18)
    research/ (1)
    security/ (4)
    wireless/ (1)
  culture/ (10)
    film/ (8)
    music/ (6)
  education/ (13)
  family/ (17)
  gadgets/ (24)
  misc/ (47)
  people/ (18)
  photography/ (25)
    pictures/ (12)
  places/ (3)
    us/ (0)
      wa/ (2)
        bainbridge_island/ (17)
        seattle/ (13)
  skating/ (6)
  society/ (20)

[Valid RSS]

del.icio.us linkblog



Listed on BlogShares

Locations of visitors to this page
Where are visitors to this page?

pyblosxom GIF