In a new departure, the Open Source Initiative will hold a small open source license clinic oriented towards US Federal agencies. The event will be at the Library of Congress on May 9, 2013 starting at 9am. Places are limited and you’re encouraged to register now.
You can finally join OSI. I’ve had a busy day at OSCON in Portland, OR today (apologies if I’ve been missing your messages and/or deadlines…) where interest around the conference has been high. Here are some details.
The Open Source Initiative now has two membership categories; Affiliate Membership for not-for-profit organisations, and Individual Membership for open source supporters to personally drive change. The Board expects to create a third category for corporate membership later this year. Together, these membership categories will eventually drive all the activity at OSI, including its governance.
The goal of all this is to turn OSI into a member-driven non-profit that’s a neutral venue for the things that are inappropriate or impossible anywhere else. Ideas already suggested include
- a global resource network for open source user groups of all kinds
- a repository of research on open source (like the late lamented opensource.mit.edu)
- a social fund to help developers attend open source conferences
Of course, all these will only happen if there are people to make them happen – the OSI Board is too small for this. The new Individual Membership category is the powerhouse of the change, connecting the resources from the Affiliates and future corporate members and staffing working groups to achieve concrete, time-bounded deliverables that benefit open source. As the membership grows – in all categories – so will the resources available, both practical and reputational. In future the OSI Board will facilitate rather than staff all OSI’s work.
There are so many things our global community could do together if even a small percentage of us were to unite in this way. The specifics of our different projects, the characteristics of our licenses and our differing approaches to software freedom vary, but that doesn’t mean we need to allow those differences to block our unity. As OSI’s president you’de expect me to say this, but all the same: please join!
As OSI’s president you’de expect me to say this, but all the same: please join!
The move to membership at the Open Source Initiative continues. OSI just published a list of the last five “invited” non-profit Affiliate Members, and opened for general applications. As well as open source development communities, I would also love to see open source user groups all over the world apply to join OSI, as the French user association AFUL has done.
Among the other (very welcome!) Affiliates joining OSI, I’m also pleased to see a non-profit open source user organisation; the Wikimedia Foundation. This is another step towards OSI fulfilling the core of the vision with which it was initially founded back in 1998; “to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.” (my emphasis). It’s time.
My proposal has been accepted for OSCON in Portland this July, so I’m planning on attending once again – I’ve been to most of them since 2000 when Sun created the OpenOffice.org project (now LibreOffice). I’ll be leading a session about the reboot of OSI, together with other OSI Board members, and I hope we will have some very exciting news to announce there.
Back then, a detailed discussion at the Open Source Initiative – where I am today a director – led to the creation of a statement about what makes a standard open, and a set of criteria for determining if the requirement was met and a standard compliant. Both are very simple as well as fully explained. So why is there even a need for a UK Government Standards Consultation? I discuss in detail on ComputerWorldUK.
It’s been an open secret all month, but two new members have joined the Affiliate scheme at OSI – Spain’s CENATIC (the national open source competency centre that’s been so important to the government adoption of open source in Spain’s regions) and the venerable Debian Project. Both bring a much-needed international flavour to OSI, along with a wealth of hard-won experience.
Having Debian join OSI is especially sweet. When OSI formed at the end of the 90s, the basis for the definition of what constituted an open source license – the Open Source Definition – was derived directly from the earlier Debian Free Software Guidelines by a former Debian Project Lead, Bruce Perens. The DFSG in turn was part of the Debian Social Contract, a pragmatic and specific response to the ethical imperative of free software.
By opening up as it has, OSI offers a place to gather the clans of open source. OSI is not the only, the first or the best exemplar of open source – it would be rash for any organisation to make such claims. But its decade-long stewardship role, along with the vision of the new Board to draw in members from ever country and every aspect of open source and software freedom, makes it a fine gathering point which could have tremendous value to us all in the future.
The OSI Board held a meeting on Friday to fill three vacancies on the Board. This was the first time we have had Affiliate Members, so we decided to ask them to nominate candidates to fill some of the vacancies. They came up with some great candidates, and we voted to have Eclipse’s Mike Milinkovic and Mozilla’s nominee Luis Villa join the board, along with government open source community advocate Deb Bryant. I know and greatly respect all three and I’m delighted to have their collective wisdom and ability on the new Board to help progress the steady shift over to member-based governance.
I will be at the FLOSSUK Spring 2012 conference on Wednesday and Thursday, and speaking on Thursday morning about the changes we’re working through at OSI. If you’ll be there in Edinburgh, come and find me at the Open Rights Group table where I’ll also help you sign up for ORG membership! Alternatively, come to London next Saturday for ORGCon and I’ll see you there instead.
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