Promising times for open source: During the last two weeks I had two opportunities to talk about open source in two different European capital cities.
First I spoke in Vienna at the OSS BIG (Open Source Software Business Information Group) Conference about Ernst & Young’s new open source brochure “Open Source Software in Business-Critical Environments”.
Personally I learned that open source software development is an important topic at CERN for many years. E.g. software developers work since 1994 on the data analysis frameworkROOT which is not only applied worldwide by research institutions but also in the financial sector because they need to handle petabytes of data as well. This represents a perfect example of software technology transfer from research to industry - the goal also stated in CERN’s Technology Transfer Policy favoring the release of software below open source licenses:
For software developments that are owned in whole or in part by CERN, CERN favors the open source approach.
Exceptions can be made where there is a good reason not to put the software development under open source conditions at a given time. Alternatively a dual licensing scheme can always be considered.
Software constitutes an important share of PP [particle physics] developments. Open Source Software (OSS) licences are generally the preferred conditions for users and developers to access the PP community’s codes because these licences offer a suitable environment for the development of large and complex software with appropriate reliability and robustness. However, in terms of commercial exploitation, the OSS scheme suffers from several critical aspects. In order to analyse the situation, the TT Network organises a workshop at CERN on October 21 addressing issues related to the use of open source software for academic and commercial purposes on the basis of practical cases presented by the Nodes. Industry representatives are invited to present their experience in using OSS, engineers from important software institutions to present their experience in TT with OSS and legal experts to address the different OSS licences as well as the mechanisms for doing business with this software. Conclusions and key lessons learned will be the subject of a report to be circulated to the KTT Offices of the PP community.
The audience liked my speech but especially loved the Prezi-way of presenting it. That’s the backdraw with such innovative presentation technologies: The form becomes more important than the content ;)
I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming TransferSummit in June in Oxford, UK. The organizers accomplished to setup a great speaker list with lots of interesting open source evangelists (including my humble self talking about my dissertational research). This will feel like a family gathering to meet fellows such as Danese Cooper, Stormy Peters, Bertrand Delacretaz, and Martin Michlmayr. I’ve met them at one of the many open source conferences I’ve been to in the last 7 years - and suddenly I feel old ;)
Nevertheless this incident proved for me personally that Wikipedia and open content systems are able to function on a sustainable basis - exactly the idea behind our definition of digital sustainability. The immediate reaction that the term is not yet established was justified and forced me to improve and enhance the article with other sources I found.
Abstract: When firms contribute to open source projects, they in fact invest into public goods which may be used by everyone, even by their competitors. This seemingly paradoxical behavior can be explained by the model of private-collective innovation where private investors participate in collective action. Previous literature has shown that companies benefit through the production process providing them with unique incentives such as learning and reputation effects. By contributing to open source projects firms are able to build a network of external individuals and organizations participating in the creation and development of the software. As will be shown in this doctoral dissertation firm-sponsored communities involve the formation of interorganizational relationships which eventually may lead to a source of sustained competitive advantage. However, managing a largely independent open source community is a challenging balancing act between exertion of control to appropriate value creation, and openness in order to gain and preserve credibility and motivate external contributions. Therefore, this dissertation consisting of an introductory chapter and three separate research papers analyzes characteristics of firm-driven open source communities, finds reasons why and mechanisms by which companies facilitate the creation of such networks, and shows how firms can benefit most from their communities.
Amadeus Wittwer had the great idea to make a short documentation about regular computer users being put in front of a Linux machine - without being told that it’s Linux (it’s the Ubuntu Netbook Remix). Have a look at the great experiment:
The official press release starts like this:
Die Alternative zu Windows 7: Schweizer Doku-Clip über Linux
Alle Welt spricht von Windows 7. Wer weiss jedoch, wie ein aktueller Linux Desktop aussieht? Ein Filmteam aus der Schweizer Open Source Szene ging dieser Frage nach. Das Resultat zeigt, dass Linux durchaus eine Alternative zu proprietären Betriebssystemen darstellt.
A week ago I finished my doctoral dissertation project by successfully defending my thesis against tricky questions by my supervisor Prof. Georg von Krogh and co-referee Prof. Sonali Shah - who came directly from Seattle just for this examination! So thanks to everyone who shared the thrill with me - especially Martin Krafft who asked a nasty question on methodology in the end! Well, I forgive you knowing that your defense is still coming up ;) - Here’re BTW the defense slides:
Thus my long educational career is almost at its end. I just need to clean up the thesis now, print it and hand it in, then I may finally be called doctor ;) However, it’s not yet the end of academia. At the moment I’m teaching Strategic Management with Georg and also write a revision of our lightweight reuse paper. And if things turn out well I might even start a new research project on open source communities - let’s see what the future brings!