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An Open Source Approach to Collaboration


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How does open source software happen? What can we learn from it for cross-organizational collaboration? In this presentation, ifPeople cofounders Tirza Hollenhorst and Christopher Johnson talk about what open source is, the process by which it is created through a voluntary community, and a concrete process that can be used in any project (even non-software projects) to "social source" the project.

Published in: Technology

An Open Source Approach to Collaboration

  1. 1. An Open Source Approach to Collaboration Chris Johnson Tirza Hollenhorst 678 608 3408 678 608 3408
  2. 2. About Us ● Scientists by training ● Lived in 7 countries ● Cofounded ifPeople (2003, Argentina) ● Social Enterprise ● Partnership-Based ● Strategy-Centered
  3. 3. We help our clients use tech to nurture effective, long-term relationships with stakeholders. Click to edit Master subtitle style
  4. 4. The Challenge Problems larger than one org can solve ● Need to use resource efficiently ● Lack of culture of collaboration ● Duplication of effort Photo by foxypar4
  5. 5. Open Source Helps Distribute the burden Diverse perspectives enrich the final product Focus on creating value for users Give everyone a voice Photo by km6xo
  6. 6. How? ● Give people the rights ● Focus on the community ● Appropriate leadership Quality product will emerge!
  7. 7. What is  Open Source?    
  8. 8. Open Source is NOT ● Free beer (freeware) ● Twitter (free services) ● Anyone can change anything (and break)  software ● Experimental projects by underground hackers ● Used only by geeks    
  9. 9. Open Source is... License Product Means of Production     Img: Vector Portal
  10. 10. License  ● Governs the rights to the product created ● You have the right to:   ● Modify ● Copy ● Use in any way ● Distribute ==> need to have the source   “Free as in Freedom”  
  11. 11. Understanding Open Source Community    
  12. 12. Shared Purpose “The reason that the Fedora  community exists is to  encourage and empower the  awesomeness that exists in the  world, to bring people together,  and to share the awesome  results with everyone.”     Source: “Cultivating Contribution”, Tom Calloway, 2009
  13. 13. Processes ● How to organize people and innovation for a  hard problem: creating software. ● Design ● Development ● Release management ● Quality control ● Maintenance ● Marketing    
  14. 14. Open Source Community Members Contributors (5%)) Participants (15%)) PARTICIPATE Consumers (80%) SHARE SEEK     Source: “Cultivating Contribution”, Tom Calloway, 2009
  15. 15. Structure ● Governing body (foundation, company, etc) – Handles contributor agreements and access to code ● Built around modularity of the code base – People or teams take responsibility for a module ● Often times informal structure    
  16. 16. Technology ● Code repository ● Communications:  ● Issue tracker ● Mailing list ● Instant messaging ● Website and/or wiki    
  17. 17.     Graphic by @ambrin based on work by Christopher Johnson and Jon Stahl
  18. 18. Community Case Studies ● Mozilla Foundation / Firefox ● Apache  Software Foundation / Apache Server     
  19. 19. Shared Purpose: The Mozilla project is a global  community of people who believe that openness,  innovation, and opportunity are key to the continued health  of the Internet.  Product: Firefox web browser with ~23% market share.  Other projects include Thunderbird (email application) and  Bugzilla (software development tool).    
  20. 20. Origin:    AOL acquired Netscape; Netscape announced  in 1998 that Communicator product would be available as  free, open source software. Structure:   Mozilla Foundation (2003) created to house  the project. Owns subsidiary for­profit companies.  Distinct hierarchy in the management:  ● Mitchell Baker and Brendan Eich function as Benevolent  Dictators.  ● Individuals given authority to make decisions: Sheriff,      Performance Guru, Super Reviewer.
  21. 21. Process: Each tool has documentation about etiquette  and best use, how to get involved, how to make best use  of your time, decision making, etc.  A culture of quality and respect is reiterated throughout. Very strict processes for code review and testing slow  down the development processes. Decision­making by authorized individuals (    
  22. 22. Members:  In addition to development community, have  Spread Firefox project members (gives specific role to  anyone, despite technical ability). Also has active  community contributing add­on products. Mitchell Baker – Chief Lizard Wrangler Is passionate about building and maintaining Community and creates roles most other OSS Projects neglect.     
  23. 23. Apache Shared Purpose The Apache projects are characterized by a  collaborative, consensus based development  process, an open and pragmatic software license,  and a desire to create high quality software that  leads the way in its field. Apache Server product is the industry leader with  47% of market share.     
  24. 24. Apache Structure Origin:  Apache began in February 1995 as a  combined effort to coordinate existing fixes to the  NCSA httpd Structure: Apache Software Foundation (1999)  provides org, legal and financial support to projects Each project has a core developer team (Project  Management Committee) with authority to design its  own governing rules.    
  25. 25. Apache Process Mailing list for communication, including  proposing changes to code Project Management Committees (PMC) vote on  changes to code. History of informal networks means less formal  processes continue. Consensus and committee­driven )    
  26. 26. Apache Members User: Uses software; contributes to the  projects by  providing feedback. Participates by helping other users, Developer: Contributes to a project in the form of code,   documentation, testing.  Committer: Developer with write access to the code  repository. Directly contributes code, reviews developer  code. PMC member:  Elected due to merit. Votes for the  community­related decisions.    
  27. 27. Principles of  Open Source  Production    
  28. 28. User = Contributor ● Everyone is an  owner ● Anyone can fork  the project    
  29. 29. To Fork or Not to Fork    
  30. 30. Leadership Response ● Goal is to lower barriers to being a  contributor ● Build consensus  ● Hold conversations in public    
  31. 31. People are free, independent, self­ directed beings ● Projects are largely  volunteer driven ● Participants choose  what they want to  work on ● More than one person  may work on solving  same problem    
  32. 32. Leadership Response ● Keep product modular ● Every user is a potential volunteer ● Distribute tasks (management and technical)  “...Leadership in an open source community  comes not from leverage or control, but from  finding common interests and expertly managing  what is volunteered.”    ­Fogel    
  33. 33. Do­ocracy, Not Democracy ● Actions matter more than opinions People should feel that their connection to a project, and  influence over it, is directly proportional to their contributions. ● Voting systems +1 0 ­1    
  34. 34. Community is an asset Members value the community  Give a little, get a lot: Giving back User/developers benefit from being  part of a larger community    
  35. 35. Community is an asset The Community values its members ● Time invested in maintaining community ● Creating roles ● Mythology ● Social capital and recognition of contributions ● Gatherings to bring people face to face    
  36. 36. Case Study: Fedora Fedora is a  Linux based operating system.  It is built by a community – The Fedora Project. They community is “contributor centric” Focuses on building strong, educated users  Contributors Contributors make up about 5% of the community    
  37. 37. Fedora's Four Foundations 100% legal, redistributable: Content,  Everyone has something to give.  websites, artwork, code, everything  Disagreement, then discussion, then  consensus Deliver Technical Excellence Innovation changes the world Upstream Collaboration is key We are eager to do the heavy lifting Feature process allows contributors  A rapid release cycle     to showcase their skills Community R&D lab Red Hat  hires people based on work done Red Hat does not control the community      in Fedora Source: “Cultivating Contribution”, Tom Calloway, 2009
  38. 38. Well­Defined Communication Documented and  transparent ● Vital for collaborative  design ● Designed to capture the  distributed knowledge of  community, make voices  heard    
  39. 39. Rigorous Contribution Process ● Contributor agreements ● Controlled ability to commit the product ● Release management (manager)    
  40. 40. Is there a road map? Photo by Wade from Oklohoma
  41. 41. Social Sourcing A project organizing approach that gets diverse stakeholders to participate in the process, thus creating sustainable community. Goal: Create a vibrant, healthy community that shares in stewarding the product.
  42. 42. Your Own Preparedness Find something you are passionate about Set the tone   ­ Keep conversations public   ­ Nip rudeness in the bud   ­ Involve others from the start 
  43. 43. Example: GetPaid • Ecommerce product for Plone • Provides payment processing and simple store •
  44. 44. Social Sourcing Process Study the market - Benchmark - Don't reinvent the wheel Set the stage - Name your project - Create a good mission - Set up communications tools (website, list, etc) Put together a compelling plan - Clarify where the project is going
  45. 45. Social Sourcing Process Recruit and engage - Make it easy for people to work with the project Gather necessary resources Bite off a manageable chunk to do - Release early and often! Celebrate successes   ­ Recognize contributors   ­ Track progress and communicate about it
  46. 46. Learn More Chris Johnson | Tirza Hollenhorst | (see Learn section) 678-608-3408
  47. 47. Click to edit Master subtitle style