What a Nightmare
Tuesday January 30th 2007, 23:14h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS

As Daniel Boos reports with images and videos, the ETH main building got spammed tonight by some strange colorful flags. Hope the upgrade works fine…

Update 1: Marcus Dapp wrote his opinion - which I absolutely support - about this event on the ETH Life website. In his recent letter to the Informatikdienste he critized the choice of Fedora Linux for the Neptun program.

Update 2: Raphael Mack of TheAlternative wrote an open letter to Prof. Gutknecht, the responsible person of the Microsoft advertisement at the ETH main building wall.

Eurolux Progressing
Saturday January 20th 2007, 9:54h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Politics, Research

I just visited the huge 287-pages FLOSS study “Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU” (PDF), lead by Rishab Aiyer Ghosh and co-authored among others by Gregorio Robles and Francesco Rentocchini whom I met in Como. The EU financed research study concludes as follows in the executive summary (excerpt):

• Almost two-thirds of FLOSS software is still written by individuals; firms contribute about 15% and other institutions another 20%.

• The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable quality control and distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally. This code base has been doubling every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is projected to continue for several more years.

• By providing a skills development environment valued by employers and retaining a greater share of value addition locally, FLOSS can encourage the creation of SMEs and jobs.

• FLOSS potentially saves industry over 36% in software R&D investment that can result in increased profits or be more usefully spent in further innovation.

• Europe’s strengths regarding FLOSS are its strong community of active developers, small firms and secondary software industry; weaknesses include Europe’s generally low level of ICT investment and low rate of FLOSS adoption by large industry compared to the US

• FLOSS provides opportunities in Europe for new businesses, a greater role in the wider information society and a business model that suits European SMEs; FLOSS in Europe is threatened by increasing moves in some policy circles to support regulation entrenching previous business models for creative industries at the cost of allowing for new businesses and new business models.

• Policy strategies focus mainly on correcting current policies and practices that implicitly or explicitly favour proprietary software:
o Avoid penalising FLOSS in innovation and R&D incentives, public R&D funding and public software procurement that is currently often anti-competitive
o Support FLOSS in pre-competitive research and standardisation
o Avoid lifelong vendor lock-in in educational systems by teaching students skills, not specific applications; encourage participation in FLOSS-like communities
o Encourage partnerships between large firms, SMEs and the FLOSS community
o Provide equitable tax treatment for FLOSS creators: FLOSS software contributions can be treated as charitable donations for tax purposes. Where this is already possible, spread awareness among firms, contributors and authorities.
o Explore how unbundling between hardware and software can lead to a more competitive market and ease forms of innovation that are not favoured by vertical integration.

Ubuntu Marketing Department Switzerland
Wednesday January 17th 2007, 12:11h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Linux, Ubuntu

Yesterday I did a 1.5h presentation on Ubuntu at EB Zürich, a school for adult people, and showed the about 40 participants the beautiful world of Ubuntu. Like this, I fulfilled a first step of my marketing mission for Ubuntu and open source software in Switzerland ;)

An Ubuntu Marketing Presentation

What Grounded Theory Is Not
Saturday January 13th 2007, 13:48h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research

As I’m currently applying grounded theory method on the interviews about Nokia Internet Tablets using Max.QDA (as I did in my master thesis), Sebastian handed me a nice read on methodology from Academy of Management Journal editor Roy Suddaby (2006) “What Grounded Theory Is Not”. It clearly shows that this qualitative method is broadly accepted in social science, however, it is often misapplied by researchers. In order not to fall in the same traps as my predecessors I try to memorize Suddaby’s six common misconceptions of grounded theory, summarized as follows:

  • Grounded theory is not an excuse to ignore literature
    - substantive theory (builded from previous literature) helps developing relevant categories and properties for the formal grounded theory (to be built from data)
    - don’t elaborate existing theory but develop new theory
  • Grounded theory is not presentation of raw data
    “A key element of grounded theory is identifying ‘a slightly higher level of abstraction—higher than the data itself’”
  • Grounded Theory Is Not Theory Testing, Content Analysis, or Word Counts
    “This is where grounded theory is most appropriate—where researchers have an interesting phenomenon without explanation and from which they seek to ‘discover theory from data’”
    “The norm that has evolved is to present grounded theory in the traditional discrete categories and in the same sequence as quantitative research: theory, data collection, data analysis, results.”
  • Grounded Theory Is Not Simply Routine Application of Formulaic Technique to Data
    “The key issue to remember here is that grounded theory is an interpretive process, not a logico-deductive one.”
  • Grounded Theory Is Not Perfect
    “The signals of saturation, which include repetition of information and confirmation of existing conceptual categories, are inherently pragmatic and depend upon both the empirical context and the researcher’s experience and expertise.”
  • Grounded Theory Is Not Easy
    “Many of the primary techniques of grounded theory research are developmental. That is, the quality of their application improves with experience.”
    “Grounded theory is an interpretive process that depends upon the sensitivity of a researcher to tacit elements of the data or meanings and connotations that may not be apparent from a mere superficial reading of denotative content. Many grounded theory researchers describe this interpretion as occurring subconsciously, as a result of their constant ‘immersion’ in the data”
    “Because of this close and longstanding connection, the personality, experience, and character of a researcher become important components of the research process and should be made an explicit part of the analysis”
    “Because the somewhat artificial boundary between researcher and research subject is removed, the quality of the contact between researcher and empirical site and the quality of the research produced have a direct relationship.”

  • OSS Roadmap 2007 Spring Edition
    Friday January 12th 2007, 22:59h
    Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS

    Order (A1 poster for free) or download now the new OSS Roadmap 2007 Spring Edition, the calendar with 59 open source events in Switzerland and in close foreign places.

    OSS Roadmap 2007 Spring Edition

    HICSS is Over - the Memories Not
    Tuesday January 09th 2007, 3:43h
    Filed under: ETH Zürich, Private, Research

    HICSS 2007 is over and Sebastian is already on the plane back home to Switzerland. I’ll fly back tomorrow since we need to finish our Nokia paper until the end of the month. So here a couple of pictures of this great conference in Hawaii, including the visit of some fun stuff on this fascinating island.

    Sebastian, me, Hala, Ruben and Joel

    The Wiki island

    Parking problems on Hawaii

    Trees dipped into lava 200 years ago

    Survived My First Academic Conference Presentation
    Monday January 08th 2007, 6:51h
    Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Linux, Research

    Last Thursday I had to present our paper “Sampling in Open Source Software Development: The case for using the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution” at the HICSS 2007 conference. We presented at the mini-track on OSS development, lead by Kevin Crowston and Hala Annabi. Although there were only about 30 people attending the session (which in fact is not bad since there are 16 parallel tracks), I still was quite nervous doing my first academic conference presentation (as you might hear on the low-quality audio record…). Fortunately, Sebastian answered all the tricky questions in the end - among others, one posed by Joel West. Thanks Sebi for your support and also the kind review of the presentation!


    Aloha HICSS!
    Wednesday January 03rd 2007, 12:23h
    Filed under: ETH Zürich, Research

    Tired but happy to be still alive Sebi and I are falling into the bed in the Hilton Waikoloa Village after 36h of travelling to Hawaii. Tomorrow at 9h the HICSS starts, so we still need to rest a little bit. Have an overview of my various encounters with air port security on Sebastian’s blog

    Sebastian and I in the AirTrain at San Francisco air port during box stop