Sun Friends On The Move

I see that two friends I worked with at Sun — most notably creating — are on the move.

  • Danese Cooper has decided that she can take on one more corporation’s move towards open source and has been appointed Head of Open Source at PayPal. Danese headed up the open source work at Sun before I took it on. The very best of luck to her there – plenty that can be achieved for software freedom with that fulcrum…
  • Tim Bray meanwhile is giving up his fulcrum at Google. Tim was the editor of the XML specification and a driving force of developer-focussed openness at Sun. Seems that despite being the company behind all the distributed team working tools I use, they still insist on centralising all their staff rather than having them work remotely. Looking forward to seeing (or, indeed, collaborating on…) whatever Tim does next.

I also see from LinkedIn that it’s four years since the death of Sun. That’s something of a magic number in career terms so I expect to see more moves in the news soon.

Hiring For Core Values

Back at Sun, I believe much of the blame for the company’s failure between 2001 and 2004 – from which the later, otherwise successful open source and hardware appliance initiatives under Jonathan Schwartz were unable to rescue it – came from allowing rapid, indiscriminate hiring of new sales and marketing staff in the 1999-2001 window as a result of the wave of success Java mindshare generated for Sun in the Web bubble.

That led to a huge growth in new, largely non-technical hires who didn’t necessarily share Sun’s traditional, open values and who didn’t rely on technology leadership as their prime guide. These new hires came to dominate the company’s software business, allowing marketing-led thinking to take precedence over pragmatic engineering. They went on to create strategies that just couldn’t deliver, including the disastrous “Sun One” middleware strategy. It matters who you hire.

My column for ComputerWorld this week asks if Twitter is falling into the same trap.

☞ Not In Your Name?

  • "The U.S. position for the moment appears closer to 'take it or leave it' with the bet that many ACTA partners will see little political alternative but to take it." — I agree that's likely to be what the US "negotiators" think, but they surely have to take seriously the threat posed by the vote this week in Europe, which could mean not one country but a whole bloc refusing to ratify the treaty. The ACTA strategy relies on a fait accomplis that no nation can afford to refuse; having 26 nations refuse calls the bluff on that strategy.

    US citizens: Is this really what you want done in your name? Do your representatives know how you feel about it?

  • The wonderful thing about open source is that once softweare has been set free it can find new ways of being useful and evolving even if its original benefactors go away. I'm delighted to see Project Wonderland from Sun Labs finding a new home like this. I hope the other projects that are being put out to grass find similarly enthusiastic homes.
  • Hopefully this includes chopping firewood.

✍ Last Day At Sun

Key West Sunset

Today is my last day of employment at Sun (well, it became Oracle on March 1st in the UK but you know what I mean). I am a few months short of my 10th anniversary there (I joined at JavaOne in 2000) and my 5th anniversary as Chief Open Source Officer. I hope you’ll forgive a little reminiscence. Continue reading

☞ Gestures

✍ A Move In The Minkheim

§ The time has finally come for me to migrate away from and Blogger, where my two main blogs have been hosted for many years. Welcome to The Wild Mink, where I’ll be posting daily comment and occasional analysis just as I have been since around 2002. Except maybe a bit more free-range…

Why now? Because the end of the FTP service at Blogger has meant that the original Webmink blog will go silent on March 1st, I have been planning this for a while. The obvious shift in attitude at Oracle means that after Sun UK merges – on March 1st as well – I’ll not feel comfortable blogging there either. The site was a genuinely industry-changing innovation and I am still proud to have played a part in making it happen, but “to everything there is a season”. And finally, I have always believed it’s best to blog on a domain one owns.

How? I’ll leave the Delicious auto-poster posting both at SunMink and here for the time being, but any new work will appear here. I’ll archive copies of the old blogs for safe keeping, just in case any policy changes make them go away one day.  Hopefully regular readers will change their subscription feeds – I’ll start posting notices to that effect next week.

So… Welcome, again!

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