Although a bit off-topic, While reading the Webliography, one thing that stood out for me, and which I disagree with, was one of the conclusions of the meeting that precipitated the portal:
It may be off-topic for the portal but your points deserve some discussion.
>While OSS is almost always driven by individuals, the individuals of OSS >still need to be provided resources such as time, money, and computer >hardware/software. It is widely believed that individualism can only go so >far because after time individuals loose interest and pass projects on to >others. Libraries are in it for the long term and can not afford to >implement workflows based on software whose lifetime is measured in >Internet years. National leadership, in the form of institutionalized >support, will make OSS in libraries more of a reality much in the same way >RedHat has helped make Linux a viable operating system and the W3C, >supported by MIT, provides guidelines and standards for the World Wide Web
Although institutionalized support for OSS projects in libraries should be appreciated and welcomed, I see a danger in this. Individualism should be preserved and encouraged as much as possible in any support effort. It is from enterprising individuals and the lean environment in which they work, with limited resources, where true innovation and creativity comes. We cannot forget that. Loss of interest among individuals in their projects is not an inevitable outcome, at least among sufficiently motivated, dedicated, and patient developers, even if it takes several years to see the results of their work (not all of us work in Internet time). Individualism can go very far.
Over-reliance upon institutional leadership, and the design-by-committee approach that it tends to encourage could foster an environment that sucks the vitality out of projects, actually slowing innovation to a plodding crawl. Open source software in libraries should be supported, but care should be taken to preserve it as a free marketplace.
These are excellent points. I realize "institutionalization" comes as something of a death knell to individualists. But please consider this is an attempt to help mainstream open source in libraries--to let everyone know they can have stable software without restrictive and costly licenses, and that while training expenses exist for open source, they also exist for proprietary software. The myth that "We have to use NT or Oracle because it's the standard" or "We have someone who's been developing open source stuff and now we're up a creek" is very weak. In fact I'm honestly astonished when I hear those arguments made by intelligent colleagues. But one way to overcome them is to adopt the corporate model where necessary.
Remember libraries tend to be conservative organizations; a number of people are not convinced that open source can work, and remember too that when advocating open source Eric Morgan has been, to use his words, "politely labelled an idealist."
While open source, in my opinion, is the only strategy to ensure long-term availability of digital resources libraries are starting to expend lots of effort developing, not everyone who needs to understand that does yet. But at some point they will, and then we will need mechanisms to coordinate efforts--part of the strength of open source is not reinventing the wheel. That's where institutional support and standardization become necessary. Someone else can probably make this point more clearly than me.
In any event, I think your last sentence says it all--the beauty of open source is the free marketplace is guaranteed. The fact that any organization provides support for a project will not remove the passion that inspires someone to code their own project at 1am--this isn't Microsoft. And everyone gets to present their better mousetrap for peer evaluation.
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From: Jeremy Frumkin
Sent: 2/2/02 4:53 PM
Subject: Re: [oss4lib-discuss] thoughts?
I can't speak for Dan, but as a participant in the meeting, I
you my take:
During the October meeting, quite a number of objectives were
forward - all having to do with promoting the current wealth of OSS
tools and projects that relate to the library community. One of the
proposed resources was an OSS portal. It was brought up at the meeting
that oss4lib already existed (not surprising, especially as Dan was
there). However, if my memory serves me correctly (and sometimes it
doesn't), I think that the thought was that the OSS portal would have a
different objective than oss4lib, though their objectives would be
related. In fact, the hope was that the cooperitive competition (or
collaboration) between the two would work to make both better - features
built in one could also be added to the other, and vice-versa. There was
some thought that building such a portal would be reinventing the wheel,
but I rather think of it more as rotating the tires - I don't
having two sites relating to OSS and libraries is a bad thing (variety
is the spice of life, after all).
Also, it is important to remember - the new OSS-library portal is in its
infancy. Eric et al have done a great job of coding it and
running - now we have to see how it can be made better, and how we can
(we being the library community) can help in making both it and oss4lib
into richer sites.
>Further to Matt's comments, I notice that Dan was at the
>Was oss4lib discussed there as the solution to the portal needs
>at the meeting (it isn't mentioned in the minutes)? Dan in his first
>this thread said "Art and I poked around with some options for swapping
>the site's backend with one of the standard blog tools a little while
>but I didn't get around to finishing it up." Presumably "the site" is
>oss4lib. Do you (Dan) see the new site as simply what oss4lib might
>looked like on a new platform? If so, should the sites simply merge?
>Digital Initiatives Technology Librarian
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>From: Matt Wilcox [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
>Sent: Friday, February 01, 2002 6:42 AM
>Subject: Re: [oss4lib-discuss] thoughts?
>Well, I don't get it (but then there are lots of things I do not get :)
>some of the feature that are there, but I can't help but compare it to
>oss4lib--with less projects and news.
>But what is further interesting to me is that when I followed the links
>report from the October meeting DLF convened it says that this is what
>going to do. And so that they did it isn;t so surprising as why they
>they needed to reinvent the oss4lib wheel. As those using free and
>software in libraries is a small audience, it doesn't make sense to me
>fracture it with sites that duplicate content. Maybe some of the new
>are needed, but that is a reason to update oss4lib (with its 3-4 years
>building a name) and not to start from scratch.
>Oh well, we library-types often put our efforts into misguided areas
>do--starting with getting that MLIS ;-)
>>p.s. Tell Chuck Norris to move the nuclear warhead to Dallas.
>(Dan, it is time to listen to the _other_ voices in your head.)
>Matt Wilcox, Epidemiology & Public Health Librarian,
>Director of Academic Technology
>Yale Epidemiology & Public Health Library
>voice: 203-785-5680 | fax: 203-785-4998
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>see also http://www.oss4lib.org/
>see also http://www.oss4lib.org/
see also http://www.oss4lib.org/