Open Source for Business and Communities
Monday June 13th 2011, 18:24h
Filed under: FLOSS, Linux, Research

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”.

Last week I was invited to Red Hat’s EMEA Partner Summit in Dublin to talk about “Doing the Impossible: Managing Open Source Communities”. I even got the honor to be interviewed by the legendary Linux Outlaws on my open source lobbying work and more things (46.4 MB MP3 or 50.6 MB OGG, starting at 1:12:08).

Institutional Open Source Community Building at CERN
Thursday October 28th 2010, 10:01h
Filed under: FLOSS, Research

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an open source workshop at CERN, organized by their Technology Transfer office. Among many interesting speakers I talked about institutional open source community building, the main topic of my dissertation. Here are the slides of my second Ernst & Young open source presentation:

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 framework ROOT 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:

4.1.5 Software
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.

The workshop itself was summarized as following:

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.

Presenting Nokia’s open source involvement and much more
Friday June 25th 2010, 12:08h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Linux, Research

Today I gave a talk at TransferSummit 2010 in Oxford on the Nokia Internet Tablet development (breaking news: “Nokia N-series devices to drop Symbian in favour of MeeGo”), Private-Collective Model of Innovation, benefits and cost of open source community building, the open source adoption matrix and ‘open-washing’ questions to firms.

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 ;)

Participating at the TransferSummit in Oxford
Wednesday April 28th 2010, 23:15h
Filed under: FLOSS, Research

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 ;)

Digitale Nachhaltigkeit is finally in Wikipedia DE!
Sunday December 06th 2009, 22:57h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Politics, Research

Wikipedia DEFinally the Wikipedia DE community accepted the entry for “Digitale Nachhaltigkeit”. Just hours after my initial publication of the short article a request for deletion was posted by Wikipedia watchers. This was followed by a long discussion between the editors, Thorsten Busch, and myself. In the end, one of the Wikipedia admins reasoned that our parliamentarian group, the Open Source Jahrbuch, and the ETH Zürich together are able to establish a new terminology - how powerful we are ;)

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.

BTW, the two other Wikipedia articles I’ve created in the English chapter didn’t stimulate any discussion: the private-collective model of innovation and Prof. Georg von Krogh. Either they are much more established than the term “Digitale Nachhaltigkeit” (which they are of course ;) or the German Wikipedia community is really as rigorous as recently discovered.

Doctoral thesis published - “How Firms Make Friends: Communities in Private-Collective Innovation”
Tuesday November 03rd 2009, 7:46h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research

Now it’s final final: The 40 printed copies of my doctoral dissertation have arrived (everything written and layoutet with Here on this blog I publish the abstract of the thesis and the PDF download of the introduction chapter (under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Switzerland license) without the appendix (because these are published research papers in scientific journals - so much about open access…). This introduction chapter can also be bought on Amazon for USD 79 ;)

Update 2011-04-26: I’m now publishing here the full PhD thesis including the three scientific papers in the appendix (PDF, 1.7MB).

How Firms Make Friends: Communities in Private-Collective Innovation

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.

How Firms Make Friends: Communities in Private-Collective Innovation

USUSv2 - Linux for the People
Sunday October 25th 2009, 20:32h
Filed under: Linux, Research, Ubuntu

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.

Read the full press release on USUSv2.

Almost at the end of my educational career
Wednesday October 07th 2009, 22:58h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research

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!

How to title your thesis really academically
Thursday September 03rd 2009, 8:43h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Research

Following a lot of advices from PhD Comics I finally found the right title for my thesis: “How Firms Make Friends: Communities in Private-Collective Innovation”

How to title your thesis

And here my favorite comic on how (not) to talk to PhD students:

What you shouldn't ask a PhD student

Want more? Here are the 200 most popular strips.

First PhD thesis presentation at LIIP
Thursday July 16th 2009, 15:21h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research

nice office at LIIP

Today I had the opportunity to present my PhD thesis for the first time. LIIP office in Zürich was the victim - I hope the practicioners were not too much bored by my academic work…