☝ Out Of Tune With Community

The first release of the contributor agreements created by Project Harmony were published last Monday. I participated in the Project, but I don’t endorse it. Find out why over on ComputerWorldUK.

⚡ Garden Monster

Garden Monster, originally uploaded by webmink.

Spotted this vapourer moth caterpillar eating the leaves on one of my blueberry bushes. Glad it’s only 3cm long 🙂

☞ Dis Harmony

  • Bradley Kuhn of the Software Conservancy is clearly opposed both to Project Harmony’s work products and sponsors.

    In short, Project Harmony is a design-flawed solution looking for a problem.

  • Stephen Walli of the Outercurve Foundation seems happy with the results.

    The Harmony Project is an attempt to provide some clarity to the discussion by creating a set of usable documents (with their guide, Creative Commons-style agreement generator, and FAQ) and the first version of the documents will be a stake in the ground to anchor debate for some time. I’ve great confidence that the agreements will continue to evolve with discussion and debate, and the core Harmony team should be applauded for their efforts to date.

  • Harmony Agreements Reach 1.0

    Open source consultant Dave Neary has a view that I find it easy to share.

    Do you really need a CLA to achieve your objectives? Is it, in fact, harmful to some of what you want to achieve? At the end of the day, my position remains the same: the goal should not be to write a better CLA, it should be to figure out whether we can avoid one altogether, and figure out how to create and thrive in a vibrant developer community.

  • The first part of the article by Richard Fontana of Red Hat.

    Despite my admiration, respect and affection for those who have been driving Harmony, I cannot endorse the product of their work. I believe Harmony is unnecessary, confusing, and potentially hazardous to open source and free software development.

  • The second part of the article by Richard Fontana of Red Hat. Richard declares the whole Harmony project misguided.

    Formal contributor agreements, whether maximalist or minimalist, remain an uncommon phenomenon in open source. We are only beginning to learn what works, what fails, and what causes harm to open source community development. It is premature for us to unify, or harmonize, the ‘law’ of open source contribution policies. We are particularly not ready to declare victory for the perennially controversial maximalist approach, let alone Harmony’s new take on it.

  • Here finally is the Harmony website complete with the release version of the agreements, largely hidden behind a form-driven wizard. I’d suggest you consider all forms the the CAA to be bad for your community, and only the first two variants of the CLA – with fixed and limited outbound licenses – to be usable (carefully) without harm assuming you have decided that some form of copyright accumulation is unavoidable.

(Footnote: This link post is the basis for Thursday’s Joining The Dots)

☞ Terms, Use and Clouds

  • Dropbox got lots of bad publicity when they first changed their terms of service and included a broad “all your work belongs to us” clause in it. But I’ve not seen any further coverage since they have clarified the ToS to say that they are only seeking sufficient rights to operate the service and do not seek any further rights. They actually responded rather quickly and deserve some congratulations.
  • I think I’d agree with Jay but phrase things differently. The benefits of open source are all the first derivatives of software freedom. As the market stabilises, we are seeing two effects.

    • The first is businesses valuing those first derivatives as a function of the freedoms that cause them.
    • The second is a shift in marketing to talk about those derived benefits, but usually somehow in the context of their cause.

    I believe we will actually see more, not less marketing of open source benefits; it’s just that it might not mention their origins so prominently. This, in fact, is the subject of my current conference keynote talk 🙂


☞ Free vs Culture?

♫ Two Favourites in the UK

If you are a UK resident located in the UK (yes, Amazon really has bolted its service down that tightly here), there are free tracks by two of my absolute favourite artists available at the moment.

I ordered the new album Perfect Darkness [US] by Fink as soon as I saw it was being released (it’s out in 10 days in the US). I think his earlier album Distance and Time [US] is just brilliant, especially This Is The Thing [US], and find his stripped back, smoked bluesy sound captivating. You can get the title track from Perfect Darkness free from Amazon UK; sadly there’s only one track on mflow, Makers. There is actually a different Fink track free on Amazon US, Revolution.

On the other hand, as I wrote before, I’d assumed Lamb were roast, so to speak. I’ve been really enjoying the richer, smoother sounds on their comeback album 5 [US] and you can get a free track from it on Amazon UK, Last Night The Sky, with the strong yet beautifully uncertain voice and lyrics of Lou Rhodes. No free US tracks that I can find, sorry.

Obviously the links are going to corrode and the tracks will stop being free, so apologies if you found this with a search some time long after I posted it 🙂

☆ Voicemail Cracking

Lock PickingI’m getting tired of all the news reports that are incorrectly accusing the News of the World of  “phone hacking”. For goodness sake, haven’t we already covered this? It’s both inaccurate and unhelpful. Even the BBC are doing it and they ought to know better.

It is inaccurate because the activity does not involve access to phones but to the voicemail service they connect to. As far as I can tell, no phone system has had its integrity violated during this incident, only a voicemail system. Most likely the culprit just cracked the voicemail PIN – pretty easy stuff if you know how to dial in to the service.

It is also inaccurate because the term “hacking” is not correctly applied to the violation of the integrity of systems. Hacking is a more general term indicating that a system is being used in a way that was not envisaged by its creators, and can be used both positively and negatively. The term that should be used is instead “cracking”.

It is unhelpful because huge numbers of technically skilled people routinely engage in “hacking” as a positive activity, involving innovation and problem solving. Misuse of the term only with a negative connotation diminishes the contribution these skilled individuals make to society.

The correct term for the alleged activity is “voicemail cracking”. It’s time people learned the difference.

☞ Corporations and Power

☝ Investing In Open Source

Does your company use open source software? Do they contribute to it in any way? If not, perhaps you should follow the Brazilian government’s lead.

Read about it on ComputerWorldUK.

☞ Misguided

  • Ed Vaizey’s views at outrageously uninformed if this report is correct. He seems to think that flawless blocking is possible and that its benefits outweigh its disadvantages. He also seems to be speaking from notes written by the media and proprietary software industries. Exceptionally disappointing lack of insight.
  • Vaizey and the government in general seem to have no clue at all about the technical consequences of their political kow-tow to the media industry. Presumably the lobbyists they are having write their policies aren’t explaining those things to them.
  • I was going to write about this but Dave’s post summarises most of what I think. I have been participating in Harmony to a small degree with the intent of making sure the project includes FOSS community-friendly options (use the License variant with an explicit license choice) and to ensure that there are voices saying we really don’t need these agreements by default, only to handle specific exceptions caused by history and/or bad choices.
  • Forward thinking in other areas (they are pioneers in using open source for local government in the UK), Bristol City Council shows they are not only prepared for zombies but also for pirates.
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