OSCON ’08

I’m leaving tomorrow for my yearly trek to Portland for OSCON. If you’re going, don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you want to catch up or RSVP for the Dojo meetup/dinner on Wed evening.

Speaking as a member of the OSCON program committee, I’m very happy about the quality of the talks in the web-ish tracks this year. There’s even a Dojo talk – even though for the first time in a long while, I won’t be giving any talks. The inimitable Matthew Russell, author of ORA’s Dojo: TDG will be giving an awesome talk on 2D drawing with Dojo’s GFX system. I know he’s got some awesome demos worked up, so I can’t wait to see the talk. Gavin Doughtie, occasional contributor to the GFX system, is also giving several talks that you’ll find me in. Should be a lot of fun.

On a more macro scale, though, I’ve started to become concerned that “Open Source” as a brand has lost its way. Those who would speak for Open Source have focused narrowly on licensing and have largely ignored the other social processes and artifacts that define what it means to contribute to OSS projects and how those artifacts lead to success or failure of projects, and therefore, of the movement such as it is. There’s a huge disconnect between what the letter of the Open Source law dictates (the licenses) and the social and process constraints that are required to build high-quality, trustable communities that ensure 100 point OSS products, and many businesses have struck on these differences as a way to use the Open Source brand to imply or insinuate that users should trust their products more than is warranted. OSI’s failure to address this brand erosion has had some troubling effects in the small JavaScript corner of the OSS world of late, and I know we’re not alone. OSI has also proven completely impotent in preventing license proliferation, further eroding the Open Source brand. There are, of course, lots of folks who are also concerned about these thing, and so I’m excited to see David Recordon (of OpenID, etc. fame) giving a talk which looks to talk about some of the community aspects. I tend to blow off “community” talks at conferences, but given David’s use of the phrase “Open Web” and his unique perspective, I’ll be interested to see what he says. I’ll also be curious to see if and how any of this is discussed at the FLOSSCON meeting of OSS Foundation leaders tomorrow and Sunday.

If you’ll be in Portland next week, don’t hesitate to join us for the dojo.dinner() on Wed. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again and talking though the issues. Should be a great time.