Thanks for thoughtful analysis and commitment to move civilization ahead,
despite lack of complete agreement on the details of open source. The tension
you cite reflects underlying binary forces of competition and cooperation,
between responsibility and authority. Like debits and credits, life and death,
up down, 0-1, left right, dare I say man, woman, we need not wait for the
perfect solution, in order for everyone to profit from cooperating, as you point
The big issue is whether anything can be done to significantly augment human
intelligence, and if so how can that be unleashed to help everyone do a better
Andy Grove was interviewed on Charlie Rose the other day, and was asked what is
the next wave of technology? Andy paused for a bit, and then offered up
"implementing what we already have", or words to that effect. Andy did not have
the vision to see a new wave forming on the horizon that not only will
implement, but in fact extend existing capabilities by an order of magnitude.
One big task for the open source community is to help Andy and others who know
where to the get money needed for doing the work, that KM is a good description
to frame the future. Andy was right not to cite KM because we have not yet
given him the words to explain it, what Eric calls the "elevator" version that
works good on television.
Doug has done important work on this. He recalled during a recent meeting at
SRI (according to Joe Williams' letter on May 10) that a foundational issue NSF
posed was to define knowledge. Accordingly, Doug has asked the current "seed"
team to tackle this issue, set out earlier on January 20, 2000. So far there
has not been enough time. Eric points out in a letter on May 4 that KM is
difficult to grasp, and you have commented on the onerous challenge of
formulating useful data structures. Jack Park noted on February 21 the bucket
of snakes that is revealed when we begin to think about ontologies.
So, we have a lot of work to do, and for some, there is not a lot of time left
to get it done.
Suppose there is a way to make progress on a core capability that also
facilitates open source development of useful tools and processes. If we spend
all of our time arguing about how to pay the bills, the path for development may
pass from the scene, perhaps lie dormant to await another chance awakening by
Right now, we need leadership to focus on taking the next step.
I see a lot of leadership and wisdom in your letter today.
Paul Fernhout wrote:
> John \"sb\" Werneken wrote:
> > ACTION suggestion (if as a non-participant in the coding, I may do so): how
> > about an "RFC UNREV-II-1: Request for Comments, to UNREV-II Group": "That
> > our work carry the Free BSD License, of the type not requiring the
> > acknowledgment". From what I see, ALL posters support either open source per
> > se or open source with the ability for derivative work to be made
> > proprietary. From what I understand, that License is accepted as "open
> > source" and allows derivative work to be made proprietary.
> > If it got support, we would (1) dispose of an issue; (2) establish a frame
> > for decision making; (3) experience the joy of moving forward on something;
> > (4) remove an apparent source of contention and/or of energy diversion.
> This license issue sometime seems like an immovable object. Here is a
> way around it.
> Here's a fall back plan of almost the status-quo if license agreement is
> not reachable.
> Drop the notion of BI/Colloquium developing any open source code --
> since Stanford with its tradition for education for dollars and BI as a
> for-profit company are having trouble making the transition to open
> content and open source -- despite the best intentions. The continuance
> of the one-sided "permission to use" agreement shows this, since
> practically no cautious/experienced developer would release open source
> code under. No point in fighting that. People who want to build
> proprietary stuff to sell on top of an open source base (SRI etc.) can
> make whatever deals they want with BI/Stanford or others.
> Keep using this list as a place for individuals to point out to other
> individuals open source ideas and efforts related to OHS/DKR issues. Use
> it to provide pointers to their own open source code and new releases.
> This has been happening already to an extent, especially with all the
> wonderful pointers to various projects which I have enjoyed immensely.
> Then let those projects be discused here, with code discussions handled
> privately via private emails or lists unrelated to the Colloquium
> (avoiding implicit "permission to use" for any code fragment), and with
> code improvement acceptance handled by individuals under their own
> Individuals who have particiapted in the colloquium would have to make
> it clear that their own coding efforts were not an "extended activity of
> the colloquium" even if they were discussed on the list. Perhaps they
> would also need to start a legal defense fund for when Stanford (or BI)
> starts knocking on doors of anyone who has posted to this list, facing
> lawyers toting around a copy of "permission to use" asking for their
> salary and claiming warranty/indemnification protection for their
> clients use or sublicensing of such individuals code. :-(
> Code to become part of the Colloquium would then have to be explicity
> granted, by an individual signing a document something like: "I agree to
> submit this code under the 'Permission to Use' unlimited indemnification
> license -- something which I would never do.
> This list then becomes a "meta"-NIC for discussing open source efforts
> related to the OHS/DKR concept (which in practice is what it is now,
> just not officially).
> Over time, out of that, there very likely may arise some meaningful new
> or enhanced projects "owned" by their originators and contributors (and
> in no way by BI or Stanford). These might then grow to be something
> If at some time BI or Stanford will then agree to allow some or all of
> the content of the list or videos to become part of any such a project
> under some terms acceptable to both, then so be it.
> This is what will happen anyway unless/until BI or Stanford addresses
> the license issue. It may happen even then, given the social dynamics of
> open source programming. Creative people may have many things to
> contribute that may not yet be in "the spec". Implementing someone
> else's detailed spec is usually (but not always) done for pay not joy.
> The only times it is done for joy are usually when the coder is getting
> a lot out of a mentoring relationship or some other indirect benefit.
> If all this happened (as it is happening now), I would still think
> Stanford & BI would have made a great contribution to an open source
> OHS/DKR by creating this forum -- even if they have not contributed a
> line of code under an open source license or a single email under an
> open content license.
> -Paul Fernhout
> Kurtz-Fernhout Software
> Developers of custom software and educational simulations
> Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator
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