So apparently the Boy Scouts of America are all Gun Ho about open source. Computer World explains us that they have launch their BSA Open Source Initiative. Worth mentioning is that this initiative has nothing to do with the Business Software Alliance nor is it affiliated in any way with the Open Source Initiative.
Open Source celebrities and former Boy Scout and OSI (the other one) co-founder Eric S. Raymond is quoted to be "delighted to see this happening". He adds:
The scout goals of education, community service and fostering individual self-reliance are perfectly in tune with open-source community values.
Cool. I only wish I had Mr. Raymond as a troop leader when I was a 14 y.o. boy scout. At that time, learning about defensive programming would have seemed even more thrilling than exchanging at night a few tidbits about self-contentment.
When a woman has had several orgasms on the tip of your tongue, she's likely to be forgiving even if you're so aroused that you explode immediately on entry. Think of it as defensive programming...
Sex Tips for Geeks: How to be good in bed - Eric S. Raymond
Thanks for coming back :)
Since a recent experience with Microsoft got me worried about people using terms out of context, I thought I'd browse through the open source BSA site to find out more. Especially worth reading (and source from most of the quotes) are the pages named classroom and history.
So what is (boy scout) open source? The answer is straightforward and somewhat haloed of an authoritative quest:
The Boy Scouts of America E-Learning Classroom project has invited Open Source experts from all over the world to answer the question "What is Open Source?"
I was expecting a good old Free Software definition like:
- Freedom to run the code
- Freedom to study it
- Freedom to redistribute it
- Freedom to improve it.
Or maybe even a more practical OSI-like definition with things like:
- Free Redistribution
- Access to Source code
- Allowing of modifications / derived work
- No discrimination against persons or group
- No discrimination against fields of Endeavor
But of course Freedom and non-discrimination are not always boys scout cup of tea hot cocoa. So here is the BSA definition:
The basic guidelines that drive Open Source projects are the requirements that the Software is open to review, adheres to open standards, and is open for use by others.
- The Open to Review requirement means that anyone can get involved in the project.
- The Open Standards requirement insures that OSS products will interface with other technologies.
- The Open Use requirement means that the software is free from restrictions for its use
Ok, here we have a completely new yet simple, definition of open source. I guess the FSF and OSI should have asked a cub scout too. No more semantic fight.
But what will BSA do with this new open source vision of their? Clearly one important task will be to fix the way FOSS projects are managed:
The process of managing OSS projects is not well defined within the Open Source Community and OSS projects do not fit well into the Project Management models that have recently been gaining acceptance among technology managers and development teams.
Project Management as a discipline, applied to OSS projects, remains mostly an afterthought to project leaders.
So, yes, let's bring on a little bit more of this flexibility and openness that always comes with any good BSA MBA. The site goes on: Through the OSI Project, the Boy Scouts of America has an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the Project Management discipline while improving the process of creating Open Source Software. Most OSS projects undertaken today are the result of an idea expressed by a developer, not a user. The OSI Project will reverse this model by focusing projects on providing solutions to the needs expressed by users. The perception of OSS being only for "geeks" accounts for a major barrier to the acceptance of OSS by the mainstream body of software users. The common motivation that most OSS projects have focused on, have been related to inward looking self serving factors. Very few initiatives are specifically intended to benefit a wide spectrum of users across a broad range of needs. With the OSI Project the Boy Scouts of America has an opportunity to be a leader in establishing a model for other organizations to follow.
Thanks for fixing it! But wait, that's not all. Under the auspices of the BSA, the entire FOSS community could also learn to be more user-centric and less ... well, geeky.
See the problems is that those FOSS geeks are in fact a bit of self-serving jerks themselves:
Self-serving and a bit narrow minded:
But of course, all in all is well since a redemption is not only possible, but genuinely offered:
Especially since in exchange for this redemption the FOSS community will accept BSA without question and provide immediate manpower:
Through the OSI Project, the Boy Scouts of America has an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the Project Management discipline while improving the process of creating Open Source Software.
Most OSS projects undertaken today are the result of an idea expressed by a developer, not a user. The OSI Project will reverse this model by focusing projects on providing solutions to the needs expressed by users.
The perception of OSS being only for "geeks" accounts for a major barrier to the acceptance of OSS by the mainstream body of software users.
The common motivation that most OSS projects have focused on, have been related to inward looking self serving factors.
Very few initiatives are specifically intended to benefit a wide spectrum of users across a broad range of needs.
With the OSI Project the Boy Scouts of America has an opportunity to be a leader in establishing a model for other organizations to follow.
The motivational factors of the Boy Scouts of America would be accepted by the Open Source Community without question. The Open Source Community will embrace the entrance of the Boy Scouts of America as a member of the community and provide an immediate support base.
In summary, a win-win situation. FOSS projects will provide immediate support in exchange of which they will learn to listen to users, learn how to properly manage projects and finally broaden their horizons by serving more altruistic needs altogether.
By the way, volunteers should start here, working on a project which is obviously not self-serving at all:
The OSI Project will provide a proving ground for future project management and software development methodologies employed by the Information System Division at Boy Scouts of America National Headquarters.
But enough fun, what about the future? I mean, is really open source the way to go?
a significant number of technology companies (IBM, Microsoft, Sun, HP, Nokia, Adobe Systems, Texas Instruments, and others) have introduced Open Source Initiatives and OSS development websites.
If Microsoft is in (Novell is also cited elsewhere) I'm sure everything is all fine and dandy then.
More and more companies are reviewing the development model that has emerged from the OSS Community as a possible future model for their IT departments.
Why the hack do I have this impression of déjà vu ... Ah, yes, collaborative development. A Microsoft way to look at open source development method without open source in it.
So can we have another example (ya know, less commercial) of altruistic use of open source? Sure, here is a nice example quoted by the site:
When we rolled into Baghdad, we did it using open source. It may come as a surprise to many of you, but the U.S. Army is the single largest install base for Red Hat Linux. I'm their largest customer.
From Brigadier General Nick Justice
What can we say. Once more, Justice was served?
But why is the project server a Microsoft server then?
The server sits inside of an MS infrastructure so that's why you see an MS signature from outside. But the entire system is pure Open Source
Ah, Okay, I'm relieved. But then why are the BSA web tools compatible with Windows IE only? Well, this last post hasn't been answered so far...
BSA Open Source Initiative:
Why do I have this tingling sensation that BSA might have one letter too many?