→David Eaves' “Saving Open Source Communities With Data”
* making sure there is a low transaction cost in getting them started and contributing
He does admit however that GitHub has been a saviour
or sorts for the open source world. He says that 'forking' used to be a bad word before GitHub because forked projects would often lead to split loyalties and a dwindling interest. But with GitHub, since the process of forking is very simple and has a negligible investment, it takes away that risk but instead enables experimentation; a majority of forks can die, but progress will still be made. GitHub also lowers the transaction cost required to get a new developers code into a repository, be it the central, or a forked repository. Further, since the process of forking also brings ownership with it, one does not need permissions anymore before they can begin to experiment and contribute test code.
To the point of using community data as a diagnostic tool, he says that by monitoring individual statistics - such as number of commits, number of commits merged, last commit time, etc - a community can gauge its own health level at any given time. If too many of its developers have not made any commits in a long period of time, then that might be a symptom of an inefficiency that lies in the project standards. Eaves is a Mozilla Developer, and is involved with a project that adds a developer dashboard to Bugzilla, which would carry these statistics.
Finally Eaves gives an example of how open data has helped a client of his in the open government model. The city of Los Angeles recently made restaurant inspection data open, and required it to be posted on every establishment's door (much like
in Toronto.) According to Eaves, this led to restaurants with poor records receiving fewer customers and those with better records a higher number. In other words, good restaurants were rewarded and poor restaurants punished. He also noted that there has been a decline in the number of patients that visit the emergency room with food poisoning, a fact that he says is likely grounded in this freeing of information.
Other than his role in open government, I particularly found Eaves' analysis on the challenges of open source communities interesting. Lately I have been really buying into the idea than an open source project needs not only the relevant licenses to be efficient, but also a community. For example, Google's Chromium Browser is an open source project released largely under a BSD license. However it is still largely developed behind closed doors, code from which is dumped afterwards with an open source license. This is in contrast to a project like Mozilla Firefox, which not only has an open source license, but also a large and thriving community working on it. The former has a very small community of developers relatively speaking (mostly Google employees), and is hence largely unknown to the public as an open source project. Eaves' analysis speaks to the mechanics of that community building and can perhaps be used to see why certain projects out there are more popular than others.
==Patrick Curran's “Who Needs Standards?”==