Last Friday I attended the first meeting of the Mass Software Council's Open Source Software SIG, sponsored by Novell and Ascential Software. Dan Bricklin was master of ceremonies and one of the organizers. He's started the blog and wiki for the group, and there are recordings and slides from the sessions.
It was a well attended event. (I have to admit being very impressed that Jack Messman attended. Even if he was merely trooping the Novell OSS flag, it's still an impressive trooping.)
As a first event, it was great. There was a breadth of presentations:
- Open Source Licensing was introduced by Ira Heffin and Karen Copenhaver.
- Open Source Business Models was a panel that included our own r0ml (Optaros), Douglas Heintzman (Director of Tech Strategy for Software Group, IBM), Nick Carr (Marketing Director, RedHat), Paul Doscher (CEO, JasperSoft), and Eric Newcomer (CTO, IONA)
- A presentation on Open Source Communities from Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza, who have an obvious wealth of experience here.
- Marc Fleury (CEO, JBoss) was the lunch keynote.
All the presentations were entertaining and informative, each in their own way. I especially liked Karen Copenhaver's example for teaching lawyers how to think about open source, by pointing out that no lawyer starts with a blank piece of paper when they start to write a contract, and the reason and rationale behind using what's gone before is that it is a proven way to do things and has been peer reviewed.
Marc Fleury's presentation raised a few hackles in the audience. He makes perhaps too much of the "professional" versus "amateur" nature of part of the community discussion. Tone of voice can be everything, and there was an attitude that if you're not being paid for the work, then it is "obviously" not commercially viable, and so some how being paid must make for better software. I do his logic an injustice here, but it doesn't account for so many examples from the past 40 years of source code sharing and business, and from all the valuable scientific work that has come from "amateur" efforts over history. Regardless, it was an entertaining lunch presentation.
I look forward to further SIG meetings. The organizers should be proud.