Open Source for an Open World


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Open Source for an Open World

  1. 1. Open Source Software in an Open World <ul><ul><li>Elizabeth B. Thomsen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Member Services Manager </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>North of Boston Library Exchange </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Hello, World! <ul><li>10 PRINT “Hello World!” </li></ul><ul><li>20 END </li></ul><ul><li>Software is easy! </li></ul>
  3. 3. “Software is hard.” Donald Knuth “The Art of Computer Programming” 1962
  4. 4. <ul><li>“Why can’t we design software the way we build bridges?” </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Impossibility of Complete Testing <ul><li>We can’t test all the inputs to the program. </li></ul><ul><li>We can’t test all the combinations of inputs to the program. </li></ul><ul><li>We can’t test all the paths through the program. </li></ul>
  6. 6. (More Impossibility) <ul><li>We can’t test for all of the other potential failures, such as those caused by user interface design errors or incomplete requirements analyses. </li></ul><ul><li>(Cem Kaner, author of ‘Bad Software”) </li></ul>
  7. 7. User Error <ul><li>Foolproof programs? </li></ul><ul><li>“It’s impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious” </li></ul><ul><li>“We thought it was foolproof but then along came another fool.” </li></ul><ul><li>Software is designed for people </li></ul>
  8. 8. SongTapper <ul><li>Tap a song for a partner – can they guess what it is? </li></ul><ul><li>( </li></ul>
  9. 9. Curse of Knowledge <ul><li>Elizabeth Newton’s song-tapping experiment: </li></ul><ul><li>Predicted guessing rate: 50% </li></ul><ul><li>Correct guessing rate: 3% </li></ul>
  10. 10. Communication Problems <ul><li>Between all parties </li></ul><ul><li>At all levels </li></ul><ul><li>At all phases of the process </li></ul><ul><li>Include communication errors in programming </li></ul>
  11. 11. Troubleshooting Trouble <ul><li>Eyewitness accounts notoriously unreliable </li></ul><ul><li>The human brain isn’t a recording device </li></ul><ul><li>In normal use, you have no idea what exactly you did just before that bad thing happened </li></ul>
  12. 12. What Does This Mean? <ul><li>Lots of bugs hiding under unintended user behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of legitimate bugs are dismissed as user error (even by users) </li></ul><ul><li>Design flaws are not bugs, but might as well be </li></ul>
  13. 13. Brooks’s Law <ul><li>“ Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Mythical Man-Month” Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. (1975) </li></ul>
  14. 14. According to Brooks… <ul><li>Each new member of a team must be brought up to speed and adds to the communication and coordination burden </li></ul><ul><li>“The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned to a task.” </li></ul><ul><li>Logical conclusion: ideal size of team=1 </li></ul>
  15. 15. A Different Approach… <ul><li>Collaborative projects of developed and supported by self-organizing communities of interest </li></ul><ul><li>Transcend geography, time zones </li></ul><ul><li>Roles based on participation, contribution and trust, not formal credentials </li></ul>
  16. 16. Pyramid of Participation <ul><li>Casual observer </li></ul><ul><li>Occasional contributor </li></ul><ul><li>Core Contributor </li></ul><ul><li>Moderator / Module Owner / Administrator </li></ul><ul><li>Board Member </li></ul><ul><li>Benevolent Dictator </li></ul>
  17. 17. Self-Organizing Communities <ul><li>Self-organizing doesn’t mean disorganized </li></ul><ul><li>Participants seek and find roles that are appropriate to their talents, interests and personal needs </li></ul><ul><li>Participants earn their place in the community </li></ul>
  18. 18. Motivation and Compensation <ul><li>People do things for all kinds of reasons </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsic rewards are more motivating than extrinsic rewards </li></ul><ul><li>Altruism, personal satisfaction, prove and improve skills, cooperation/competition, future reward, social interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Be part of something </li></ul>
  19. 19. Collaborative Communities <ul><li>Have always existed in some form… </li></ul><ul><li>But the Internet transformed the way people can engage in discussion and collaborative projects </li></ul>
  20. 20. Active Communities <ul><li>Health and disability support groups </li></ul><ul><li>Political activity </li></ul><ul><li>Fan communities </li></ul><ul><li>“ Survivor” spoilers </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia : open source encyclopedia </li></ul><ul><li>(truly collaborative rather than collective) </li></ul>
  21. 21. Economic Impact <ul><li>Fewer people watching televisions, especially in the 18-34 demographic </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer people reading newspapers </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer ratings, reviews, blog postings sometimes more powerful than advertising </li></ul><ul><li>(Example : blogging foodies) </li></ul>
  22. 22. Free/Open Source Software <ul><li>Grew out of the old hacker culture of the 1960’s and 1970’s </li></ul><ul><li>Students working on UNIX systems; minicomputers </li></ul><ul><li>Computers club culture around the Altair and other early hobby computers </li></ul>
  23. 23. Bill Gates’ Open Letter 1976 <ul><li>Sent to the Homebrew Computer Club complaining about unauthorized copying of Altair BASIC: </li></ul><ul><li>“ you…prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing?” </li></ul>
  24. 24. Free Software <ul><li>Free Software Foundation (1985) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Think of free speech, not free beer” </li></ul><ul><li>GNU Project : full operating system </li></ul><ul><li>Linus Torvald’s Linux provided the kernel </li></ul>
  25. 25. Four Freedoms <ul><li>Freedom 0 : The freedom to run the program for any purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom 1 : The freedom to study and modify the program </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Freedom 2 : The freedom to improve the program so you can help your neighbor </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits </li></ul>
  27. 27. Source Code Access <ul><li>Freedoms 1 (study/modify) and 3 (improve/release) are only possible with the source code </li></ul><ul><li>Source code invaluable as a learning tool, but also for security and for improvement </li></ul><ul><li>Academic tradition: release research </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid evolution </li></ul>
  28. 28. Open Source Movement <ul><li>1998: Netscape’s release of Navigator source code as Mozilla </li></ul><ul><li>Possibly confusion and political emphasis of “free software” terminology </li></ul><ul><li>Some disputed areas between groups, much common ground in principle and practice </li></ul>
  29. 29. “The Cathedral & the Bazaar” <ul><li>Eric S. Raymond, 1997 </li></ul><ul><li>Contrasts building of cathedrals (highly centralized) and bazaar “a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches” </li></ul>
  30. 30. Open Source Approaches <ul><li>Users should be treated as co-developers </li></ul><ul><li>Early releases (find co-developers early) </li></ul><ul><li>Frequents integration (often nightly builds) </li></ul><ul><li>At least two versions (development/stable) </li></ul><ul><li>Modularization (parallel development) </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamic decision-making structure </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>Richard </li></ul><ul><li>Stallman </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>Linus Torvalds </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>Eric Raymond </li></ul>“ Everybody Love Eric Raymond” http:// geekz .co. uk / lovesraymond /
  34. 34. Business and Open Source <ul><li>Open source is not incompatible with business </li></ul><ul><li>IBM, Sun and other businesses have chosen to participate in open source projects, donating both existing software and programmers </li></ul><ul><li>Choose to build their applications on top of open source bases software like Apache </li></ul>
  35. 35. New Business Opportunities <ul><li>Businesses charge for installation, customization and support of open source products </li></ul><ul><li>Businesses develop value-added compatible software products </li></ul>
  36. 36. Complex Legal Issues <ul><li>Open source coming of age </li></ul><ul><li>Microsoft asserting patent infringements and making settlement offers with Novell and others </li></ul><ul><li>GPL3: Patent pledge to Novell extends to all Linux </li></ul>
  37. 37. Libraries and Open Source <ul><li>Open Source Software: Freedom to read? </li></ul><ul><li>Community-based software: Compatible with public and educational institution philosophies : resource sharing, examination and evaluation of sources </li></ul><ul><li>May provide longterm stability </li></ul>
  38. 38. Workstation Level <ul><li>Open source operating systems now ready for prime time </li></ul><ul><li>Library patrons becoming familiar with the concept of open source software; may appreciate savings </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction of Vista a time for re-evaluation </li></ul>
  39. 39. Open Source Library Systems <ul><li>Georgia Pines system using Evergreen brought major attention to Open Source as a viable option even for a very large library system </li></ul><ul><li>Instability in the ILS market makes this a good time to re-evaluate options </li></ul><ul><li>Competition and choice from outside likely to be good for the ILS vendors and for customers </li></ul>
  40. 40. My Prediction <ul><li>The next two years are going to be very interesting. </li></ul><ul><li>So is the rest of today </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoy! </li></ul>
  41. 41. Elizabeth B. Thomsen <ul><ul><li>Member Services Manager </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NOBLE: North of Boston Library Exchange </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul>