§ I gather that the Board of Directors of the Open Source Initiative met on Sunday to elect the board for their 2010-11 financial year. I am both honoured and delighted to discover that they have elected me as a Director, with effect from April 1st.
That’s an auspicious date . One or two friends have asked why on earth anyone would want to commit time to OSI. They point out that the OSI has had a much lower profile over the past few years as the more notable founding members have moved on. It has been criticised for allowing too many licenses to be approved – including some of questionable merit. It’s easy to find people ready to criticise – some apparently just for the sake of it – and hard to find much more than grudging respect.
But the OSI still plays a very important and relevant role in the world of software freedom. Some points:
- Many government and business policies around the world point to OSI when defining what is acceptable as “open source”. The OSD remains the “gold standard”.
- There is still a substantial authority connected with the organisation when the time comes for an abuser to be challenged to back down from describing their freedom-impaired activity as “open source”.
- License approvals have become a much more onerous process, with the emphasis on avoiding creation of new licenses, updating old or flawed ones and encouraging the retirement of redundant ones.
There’s no question that the “open source” concept and brand remain powerful forces for positive change. That green logo carries weight.
I think it’s time for change, first at OSI and then more widely. OSI needs to move from a “supreme court” model to a member-based model. I’d like to see activities promoting software freedom around the world both encouraged and represented by OSI – education, policy development and perhaps organisational support for open source projects. And if there was any way at all to be a more uniting force or have a scorecard – well, I can dream!
My goal as a Director will be to facilitate that change, a change that is already well under way following recent face-to-face discussions and the great work that Andrew Oliver and Danese Cooper have already put in. Expect to hear more on this subject as the year progresses.