Re: [unrev-II] Leadership and licenses

From: Paul Fernhout (
Date: Tue Jun 13 2000 - 07:27:40 PDT

  • Next message: Eugene Eric Kim: "Re: [unrev-II] Leadership and licenses"


    Great post! I'm curious what others on the list will have to say about
    I hope many more people comment. If they don't, then that's your answer.

    At this point, I see the list as probably most useful just as pointers
    to other work in progress. I personally am disappointed by that compared
    to my expectations back in November or so -- although I am glad I have
    participated in the list because I have learned much, and it has helped
    me refine my own goals. I especially liked the early pointer to Dee
    Hock's "Chaordic" organization work.

    The biggest issues I see relating to leadership (off the top of my head)
    * Doug is looking for SRI (or a similar group) to do the heavy lifting
    again. Frankly I believe many of the same forces that killed his work at
    SRI in the past will in the future prevent SRI from doing the right
    thing with it -- not "something", but "the right thing". While SRI
    personnel have done incredible things, SRI is still an entrenched part
    of the pre-internet economic order. It would be a great coup for Doug to
    get SRI to implicitly admit their mistake in letting go of Augment by
    taking it back (like an old lover admitting how wrong they were to push
    one away). The question is, has SRI really changed since then?
    * Bootstrap is a for-profit company and is having trouble making the
    transition to open source, and also lacks some credibility because it is
    * Many of the participants who could contribute are more busy looking
    for a way to survive economically (possibly by selling DKR products or
    services). Those who could contribute a small amount of effort or code
    gratis are somewhat repulsed by this. (These two tensions can also exist
    within the same person!) This is one reason the license has not been
    worked out -- the commercial survival group is still looking to hold on
    to something for an economic edge. However, there are also several open
    source possibilities for licensing, so this is a compelx issue.
    * Taking handouts from Sun and Stanford has created implicit bonds
    (choice of Java, "Permission to use" license) that make various options
    less attractive or prevents them altogether.
    * The project did not start with "a gift of code", and so has no open
    source credibility beyond Doug's reputation in saying that is what
    Bootstrap wants to do. Releasing anything related to Augment under an
    open source license would increase this credibility.
    * The weekly meetings in CA have created an in-group / out-group
    situation with regards to this list. Those who are physically located in
    CA become the in-group with privileged interactions (although thankfully
    summarized on the list), those elsewhere geographically become the
    out-group. While much progress is undoubtedly made with face to face
    meetings, the Apache group didn't meet face to face for years. The
    "in-group" does not seem to have license as a priority, because it seems
    more composed of people figuring out a business model for funding. I
    don't fault them for this, but it creates a tension between them and
    open source advocates on the list who just want to proceed without

    I believe Doug would like others to lead, but these other factors make
    it difficult to do so -- there is much existing baggage and some
    cross-purposes. To put it another way, it is hard for an individual
    other than one formally at these organizations to have leadership
    legitimacy, and the obvious and easier alternative for open source
    developers (leaders or not) is to join an existing open source project
    that is getting stuff done or start one's own.

    I don't quite know how to explain this, but I feel like this group has
    both too much structure and too little structure.

    There is too much structure because there is an implicit hierarchy (or
    inner circle?) related to producing the colloquium, which has not
    translated itself into open source production. (This isn't to denigrate
    what this hierarchy has done, as the colloquium was great.) Also, too
    much structure because "permission to use" prohibits contributions.
    Also, implementing someone else's detailed spec is boring compared to
    incremental prototyping (also perhaps futile because of ignoring prior
    art or alternatives).

    There is too little structure because there is no real open source
    license (or licenses), and there is no ongoing discussion of related
    code open source code (squashed in part because of "permission to use"),
    and there thus cannot be any leadership related to code development
    without overcoming the license issue and "permission to use" first. Most
    open source efforts don;t start with these disadvantages.

    I myself released some open source code related to knowledge management
    last month (check the Python newsgroup), but I did not post the
    announcement to this list because I did not want the code to be
    interpreted as in any way falling under "permission to use". We have no
    way of knowing how many open source developers have lurked on this list
    and abandoned it entirely without any comment.

    A comment has been made in the past that this list was just about the
    colloquium and not developing the OHS/DKR. It was not my understanding
    these would be completely separate activities. Without a rework of
    "permission to use" and a transforming of this effort into an open
    source / free software one, momentum from the colloquium will continue
    to be lost. That will make starting up such an effort harder.

    Here is a first cut at the summaries you asked for. I use "we" loosely.

    Where we are:
    * Some general discussion of world issues.
    * Lots of pointers to related work on the web.
    * Great specs from before the colloquium, somewhat refined by the
    * Great summaries of the last two above (mostly be Eric Armstrong).
    * No license beyond the one sided "permission to use".
    What we are doing:
    * Still expanding on the above points.
    * Some are trying to develop a business model and get funding for it.
    * The beginnings of an "official" user editable DKR via Zope and ZWiki
    have been started on the Bootstrap server by Lee Iverson of SRI. [Sorry,
    but this grates on me a little because my "unofficial" Zope set up was
    ignored. But this is an example of how there is a social hierarchy of
    "legitimate" offerings present in this project (and perhaps most any
    * Occasional discussions of licensing issues (so far without any
    commitment as a group).

    Where we are going:
    * I don't know, hopefully towards a open source OHS/DKR with some open
    source content related to world issues (energy, pollution, biodiversity,
    infrastructure, poverty, health, etc.).

    What can be worked on immediately:
    * Good question!
    * Pointers to related work around the web?

    -Paul Fernhout
    Kurtz-Fernhout Software
    Developers of custom software and educational simulations
    Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator

    UglySpineHead wrote:
    > As I'm watching this group grow and evolve from the sidelines several things
    > have come to my attention.
    > 1) While there is a definitive leader (Doug) and support team (the BI
    > staff), there is a lack of leadership.
    > This is not meant as an insult. There is definitive goal, but many people
    > don't know what's going on, and they want to help, but don't know where to
    > start. It's not that they are completely ignorant of what's happening, but
    > because the scope and size of this project is rather huge. I think it would
    > be very appropriate to have a summary of where we are, what we are doing,
    > where we are going, and what can be worked on immediately. Keeping all this
    > in mind, I would like to thank those members who are being very active by
    > pushing unrev-II further. I am very impressed by you all, and I have the
    > greatest respect for you.
    > 2) The license agreement attached to the colloquium (and by extension this
    > mailing list) needs to be addressed and corrected.
    > I, for one, am *very* uncomfortable with it, as I assume others are. Even a
    > short term solution would be welcome. I don't have anything against
    > Stanford, but it could be used improperly. I think this is more pressing
    > than deciding on a license for any future coding (though it encompasses many
    > of the same issues).
    > -
    > These are just a couple things that have been on my mind lately. I
    > appreciate the time taken to read this message and would like any feedback
    > you might have to offer.
    > Michael Crusoe -- student at large
    > (602) 438 8088 ext 0335
    > [Leave a message, start a dialogue, make something happen]

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