Switzerland is a Developing Country regarding OSS adoption
Sunday May 17th 2009, 13:45h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Politics, Research

Today I studied a little bit Red Hat’s and Georgia Tech’s Open Source Software Potential Index. The nice map illustrates the international adoption of open source software (OSS) in the three different areas: government, industry, and community. As their scientific paper describes data was drawn from an enormously broad range of sources.

OSPI Ranking

So I took the country rankings and ordered them by government adoption (which is interesting to me at the moment). As can be seen in the table (PDF, ODS, XLS), Switzerland falls back extremely far. While being 22nd in the overall ranking (which already is very bad considering being 7th in the ICT environment), the government’s OSS adoption is on rank 34. As can be seen in the data, there is only one lower rank, 45. Thus we’re basically second last in worldwide OSS adoption, a real developing country - one more reason to help our public administrators a little bit in their efforts procuring software in a way that enables OSS solutions as well…

Research Marketing of my PhD Paper at ETH Life
Thursday April 16th 2009, 23:15h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research

Thanks to ETH Life I can now send my mom a link which describes the content of one my dissertation papers! Maybe now that she understands what I was doing the last three years she’ll forgive me that I didn’t study meteorology but some nerdy geeks ;)

Why volunteers are programming for Nokia free of charge
Nokia has had volunteer developers carry out parts of the programming for one of its new devices. The developers worked free of charge, and in return Nokia had to offer up some of its trade secrets. A study carried out by ETH Zurich examines whether this is a win-win situation for both parties and looks at the motivation on both sides.

Warum Freiwillige gratis für Nokia programmieren
Für ein neues Gerät liess Nokia Programmteile von freiwilligen Entwicklern entwerfen. Diese arbeiteten gratis, dafür musste Nokia Einblick in Betriebsgeheimnisse gewähren. Eine ETH-Studie untersucht, ob das eine Win-win-Situation für beide ist und welche Motivation für beide Parteien dahinter steckt.

Our Nokia article was at the ETH Life front page during an entire day:

Our Nokia article was at the ETH Life front page during an entire day!

Download Google Books as PDF
Friday February 06th 2009, 14:12h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Education, FLOSS, Research

Have you ever found an interesting book on Google Books and missed the “Download as PDF” button?? Google Book Downloader is a new little open source program which does exactly this (only for educational purposes of course ;) So now I finally can read the book chapter of Tim O’Reilly “The Open Source Paradigm Shift” also offline as PDF (sidenote: I don’t think that Tim O’Reilly thought how far the paradigm shift would go and that today - thanks to open source software - one can download this book for free whereby challenging his business model at the core…).

Google Books Downloader runs almost on my Ubuntu

Drawbacks: Google Book Downloader needs Windows, you have to install some ugly .NET framework in order to run it and on my Windows VirtualBox installation on Ubuntu it always crashes before being able to download the pages. Therefore, a Linux version of the application or debugging of this issue would be much appreciated.

Maemo Paper Presented in 1min
Tuesday February 03rd 2009, 20:12h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Linux, Research

Usually I’m not really camera-shy, but in the case of our SMI video abstracts Stefan had to push me almost three years until I finally did my first recording this afternoon. So here it is, the short 1min teaser for our new paper “Extending Private-Collective Innovation: A case study” soon to be published in R&D Management!

Authors: Matthias Stuermer, Sebastian Spaeth, and Georg von Krogh (all ETH Zurich)

Abstract: The private-collective innovation model proposes incentives for individuals and firms to privately invest resources to create public goods innovations. Such innovations are characterized by non-rivalry and non-exclusivity in consumption. Examples include open source software, user-generated media products, drug formulas, and sport equipment designs. There is still limited empirical research on private-collective innovation. We present a case study to 1) provide empirical evidence of a case of private-collective innovation, showing specific benefits, and 2) to extend the private-collective innovation model by analyzing the hidden costs for the company involved. We examine the development of the Nokia Internet Tablet, that builds on both proprietary and open source software development, and that involves both Nokia developers and volunteers who are not employed by the company. Seven benefits for Nokia are identified, as are five hidden costs: difficulty to differentiate, guarding business secrets, reducing community entry barriers, giving up control, and organizational inertia. We examine actions taken by the management to mitigate these costs throughout the development period.

Uncovering the Maemo and Openmoko communities
Thursday January 15th 2009, 0:48h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research

Last November my core PhD thesis project took place: We sent out a large-scaled survey into the open source communities of Maemo and Openmoko.



After doing almost 30 interviews and writing a qualitative paper on the Private-Collective Model of Innovation I really wanted to do some hard stats ;) Today we finally published the raw results of the 1233 respondents revealing quite interesting insights into these heterogenous communities.

Already by looking at the descriptive statistics we see some significant differences between these two communities: E.g. people seem more happy with Openmoko Inc.’s information policy than with Nokia’s secretness. Answering [Nokia resp. Openmoko Inc. is secretive about future plans of Maemo resp. Openmoko.] 46.2% of the Maemo community responded “strongly agree” or “agree” vs. 26.6% in the Openmoko community. Might this be a cause why the average number of hours contributed per week is lower in the Maemo (4.5h) vs. the Openmoko (5.1h) community?

Really insightful results will show us our Structural Equation Modeling on which Sebastian is working heavily these days using R. Let’s hope we finish the paper before the end of my dissertation mid 2009…

Update 2009-01-16: Great, our research seems to be notified and actually read by some of the community members ;)

Researching in the Alps
Saturday January 10th 2009, 20:21h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Research

The last two days we - our SMI team together with the Chair of Prof. Pius Baschera - spent in the hotel Morteratsch almost 2000m above sea-level close to Pontresina. We discussed intensively our PhD projects (doctoral students), research experiences (post-docs) and practical insights (Prof. Baschera as chairman of Hilti and member of the board of Roche, Schindler, Vorwerk and Ardex) and learned a lot from each other. Particularly I got to understand the concept of Business Model Innovation and the idea of phenomenon-based research agendas.

Martin's up-and-down PhD journey


Luckily the weather was great so we could also do a little walk almost up to the Morteratsch glacier which demonstrates clearly the climate change issue.

Peter, Zeynep and myself

Walking and talking

Mountain above 3000m

My most academic day
Wednesday December 03rd 2008, 21:30h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Research

As my political career still has to wait a little bit, I decided today to concentrate on my academic profession. By reading all day and preparing for this week’s doctoral seminar I thought a little physical motion would probably support the intellectual activity. Thus I took my new first class Generalabonnement for doctoral students and travelled 540km from Bern (9.02h) to Zürich (10.09h) to Locarno (14.12h) to Domodossola (16.10h) to Bern (17.54h) - a very recommendable round trip especially because it’s possible to spend most of the time in panorama waggons. That’s why I even survived reading Georg’s toughest paper “An Essay on Corporate Epistemology” ;)

Google Map of the 540km trip
Google Map of the 540km trip

Frozen valley outside the warm panorama waggon
Frozen valley outside the warm panorama waggon

Palm trees in Ticino
Palm trees in Ticino

Reading Marotto, Roos and Victor (2007) 'Collective Virtuosity in Organizations: A Study of Peak Performance in an Orchestra'
Reading Marotto, Roos and Victor (2007) ‘Collective Virtuosity in Organizations: A Study of Peak Performance in an Orchestra’

Winter in Creggio
Winter in Creggio

Visiting University of Göttingen
Friday October 17th 2008, 0:35h
Filed under: Development Cooperation, ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Linux, Private, Research

At the moment I’m visiting Göttingen on a short two-day trip. Tobias Lechtenfeld, a longtime colleague whom I got to know during my US high school year in 1997, invited me to University of Göttingen to present at the cege Research Seminar. The presentation of our Nokia paper with a focus on the Private-Collective model of innovation went well, the participants asked a lot of interesting questions such as “Doesn’t the community feel betrayed if Nokia earns a lot of money once they found the killer application through the Maemo community?”

At tonight’s dinner of the starting PhD seminar on development research I got the chance to talk to Clive Bell, one of the most renowned economists in the field of HIV research. Getting to know his biography I’m very impressed how he successfully managed the move from credit market to HIV research! And interestingly, his newest publications are mostly in collaboration with Hans Gersbach of ETH Zürich.

Tobi, Prof. Clive Bell, Jan and myself
Tobi, Prof. Clive Bell, Jan and myself

Nice students city Göttingen
Nice students city Göttingen

Tobi writing his PhD papers on Vulnerability in Southeast Asia in collaboration with Felix Povel
Tobi writing his PhD papers on Vulnerability in Southeast Asia in collaboration with Felix Povel

OSiM and Maemo Summit in Berlin
Friday September 19th 2008, 18:33h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Linux, Research

Back in Europe I’m in Berlin for two days attending the Open Source in Mobile conference and the first Maemo Summit. Although the timing is little bit bad because of next week’s OpenExpo and Hackontest I’m organizing the trip to Germany was worth the effort: I got to meet many interesting people (among them Ken Banks of kiwanja.net, an innovative mobile phone service for developing countries), gathered over 30 responses for our new survey in the Maemo community and tried to recruit cool keynote speakers for OpenExpo’s in 2009. The night train to Bern leaves in two hours, so let’s go party within the Maemo community till then ;)

Meeting in the hotel lobby with Sean Moss-Pultz, CEO of Openmoko Inc.

Ari Jaaksi, head of Open Source Software @ Nokia, talking at the Maemo Summit

Torturing data until it speaks
Saturday August 30th 2008, 8:08h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Education, Politics, Research

Three weeks ago I arrived in the US. You might wonder what I’m doing all the time, just lying around or really getting some stuff done?? Let’s report backwards two days:

I just came home from a dinner organized by nice people of Vineyard Seattle, the church right in front of my apartment. Before I was working at the university crunching numbers and running statistics with my freshly acquainted R-skills for a new research project on Eclipse. For lunch I was invited by Suresh Kotha inspiring me on how to ‘torture my data until it speaks’. After finding out that there is no reciprocity in the Eclipse community, I have now a new idea how to intersect the figures. In the morning I reciprocated by showing David Gomulya how he could parse the entire Wikipedia site by using cURL - quite ambitious ;)

Yesterday night I watched of course Obama’s big speech at the Democratic Nomination Convention. While the conservative media concluded with its usual cynical review, I really admired how he talked and what he said, e.g. “Let’s not make a big election about small things.” (which of course media doesn’t like) Before I was invited for a little beer in the apartment just next to my door by David von Oheimb, Jorge Cuellar and his family. In the afternoon I went with friends to visit Boeing’s huge main manufacturing facility in Everett, close to Seattle. For me it was fascinating: I always thought airplanes just exist and fly around, but now the blackbox opened up and I saw how these fat birds are constructed by thousands of (wo)men! Especially the big 747 and the new 787 were impressive to watch being glued together. For lunch I went out to a nice Indian restaurant with Stephan Siegel. He’s from Germany but lives in the U.S. for several years already doing tenure track at UW in finance.

That’s about it what my brain can store in detail. Unfortunately I’m not able to attend the West Coast Research Seminar therefore returning to Switzerland already next Friday, September 5th - which I don’t mind because despite all the nice people here I miss Anita and the boys a lot!

Ah, and last but not least a pic of lunch with Sonali Shah, my great host here at UW who inspired me for my research and helped me a lot with current and future papers!!