Ava Marie Dacayo
During midterm break, I attended FSOSS which was held at Seneca College on October 23 and 24, 2014. I attended 4 talks on Thursday and two of the talks I will be comparing to each other is Glen Campbell’s “Succeeding with Open Source” and Blaise Alleyne’s “Software Freedom in a Networked World”.
Succeeding with Open Source
This focuses on how businesses can use open source to work for them. He discussed the advantages of open source such as it has low costs, it’s transparent, maintained by the community and it’s not so apparent disadvantages as well. He emphasized the fact that Open Source is not exactly free. Although we have a lot of contributors who are more than willing to offer their skills and time for free, we can’t really put a deadline on them and dictate what features your business might need. Businesses must also consider the fact that you will still need to hire people to maintain and enhance the current features of the available program according to your business needs. Development may or may not be slow, poorly supported, documents may be bad so businesses really have to assess if open source is actually for them. It was also mentioned that a lot of businesses don’t do open source because they have all the money and all they really care about is having someone to sue when something goes wrong. Part of his talk is also about different roles in open source and how to make open source work for you. One of the important topics were the proper courtesies with regards to people involved in the open source world. Sometimes we all tend to abuse the privilege of anonymity over the internet. Technically, this is not something that applies only to the open source community but also everyone online. Another thing he mentioned is about showing appreciation to the contributors and understanding that you can’t dictate them. Although this talk is about open source, most of the points presented can also be applied in a regular office setting. Everyone needs appreciation, praise, space, and understanding of limitations for them to be inspired and do better.
Blaise Alleyne focused on propriety software and how we can keep our privacy and security. He highlighted the fact that Microsoft is not the one who’s dominating anymore but Facebook, Gmail, Dropbox, etc. which are all offering services for free. In his opinion, we should and can stay away from these giants. We would have privacy concerns such as them being able to know our online activities and security concerns like when if ever one of the services we use goes down, what’s going to happen to our data? One of the problems he mentioned about that is the fact that almost everyone has an account on those sites. If you are on Facebook, you can only talk to those people who are on Facebook, if you are on Skype, you talk to people who use Skype. One of the solutions he presented is to take the software and make it better. According to him, open standards on users’ data should also be implemented like how it should be handled? Where should it be stored? Another solution he presented is distributed systems peer to peer systems such as email in where everyone can interact with each other and is not restricted to just one. However, even though you use your own such as the email example he used in where whether you gain privacy by using your own server, the people you talk to still uses Gmail which will of course still have emails they have sent or received from you in Google servers.
I think the first question that should come into your mind is what role are you playing in the open source world? Are you a contributor? A user? An owner? A business? What do you want to achieve and how do you want to make use of these free lines of codes? Glen Campbell’s talk helps the community in general on how to work with each other and gives an informative description of the different roles within the community. It’s not all about the technical skills but also how we work with other people (including making documentations) to make the entire thing successful.
Blaise Alleyne’s talk is a reminder that although these services are free, we have very little control over the data we provide them – unless of course if you completely stop using their services. As a contributor, people who have the same goals as him may collaborate and build things that would promote privacy for everyone.
These two talks in my opinion complement each other. “Succeeding with Open Source” helps with knowing how to behave in the open source world and “Software Freedom in a Networked World” on having a goal such as fighting for your own privacy – especially for people who give a lot of care about the information they provide over the internet. As someone who is just starting out in open source, I am glad that I gained an insight not only about the perks of being a contributor such as working on projects that the entire world doesn’t know yet but also how to engage and work with other contributors, owners, etc and how to have a healthy environment within the community. Now as a user and someone who values privacy, although I completely agree on Blaise Alleyne’s points, I feel more like I can’t do anything about it unless I detach myself completely with these giants which would mean I would have to probably find another way to communicate with the people I know.
I enjoyed attending FSOSS for the first time and I look forward to exploring and contributing to the community