If there’s one thing people think of when they think of summer in Portland, Oregon, it’s beer. But once they stop thinking about that, they usually start thinking about all of the awesome tech events that take place here over the summer. And then they probably go back to thinking about beer.
Be that as it may. If you’re into open source, there is no better place to be this summer than Portland, where Open Source Bridge and OSCON will be filling the Rose City with all sorts of open source goodness. Read More
Well, well, well. The flowers are in bloom. The birds are singing. That strange burning orb in the sky is making more and more regular appearances. It’s Spring in Portland.
Know what that means? That’s right. The next thing to come into full bloom with be a ton of big tech events. So get ready. Because here’s all the geeky goodness Portland has in store for you. Read More
According to a Google Groups post by David Percy, Geospatial Data Manager at Portland State University, the manager of catering at the Oregon Convention Center has mentioned that OSCON will be back in Portland.
Now while we’ve heard rumors swirling about this for quite a while—including talk that Portland Mayor Sam Adams is lobbying for the conference fairly heavily—it’s rapidly moving into the 99% sure category.
Today, that rumor got a little closer to reality. Read More
And sure enough, they talked to those folks. And I know that most of them—if not all of them—will be appearing on Think Out Loud live, this morning at 9 AM.
Do you buy the argument that if you want to make a living as a programmer in Portland, open source software is both a blessing and a curse?
Are you a part of the movement more broadly? What’s your take on where it came from, where it is now, and where it’s going? What lessons does the open source philosophy have for life outside the digital world—for research, or business, or democracy?
Great! Should be a really interesting show, right?
Well, yes. But with one slight hitch.
“We want you on there, too,” they said.
Um. People get to read me thinking out loud practically everyday. Do they really need to hear me thinking out loud, too?
The Open Web Foundation is an interesting step in the ever evolving world of technology “openness.” What started with open source code and moved to open data has now evolved to the open Web.
And that’s an important step.
What is the Open Web Foundation?
According to the Open Web Foundation site:
The Open Web Foundation is an attempt to create a home for community-driven specifications. Following the open source model similar to the Apache Software Foundation, the foundation is aimed at building a lightweight framework to help communities deal with the legal requirements necessary to create successful and widely adopted specification.
Take a moment to read that again. Because within that charge lies a very important distinction. A distinction that differentiates the Open Web Foundation from other organizations playing in this space: the Open Web Foundation is focused on the specifications that facilitate the sharing and transmission of data.
Not the data itself, the specifications.
“The Open Web Foundation is not a standards body,” said Scott Kveton. “The W3C, OASIS and others do that fantastically today. This is about helping speed the development and proliferation of open specifications so we can figure out if they make sense or not.”
My take? For the Open Web Foundation, it is more critical to understand and support how the data is being exchanged and how we build open systems that are interoperable. Because without interoperability and the ability to share, all the data in the world is useless.
So what organizations belong to this foundation? Well, you’ve hit upon another important difference. You see, the Open Web Foundation is an organization of individuals. The following folks are currently part of the foundation, but it’s a list that—obviously—is continuing to grow:
And as a foundation of individuals, the Open Web Foundation is open to you, as well. Simply join the Open Web Foundation Google Group to begin discussions with the organization and determine how you would like to participate.
But just because it’s an organization of individuals, that doesn’t mean it lacks community support by major players.
We truly are in an inflection point when it comes to the future of the web. Today I’m wearing my “I support the Open Web” wristband which Mozilla gave away at OSCON last year. So what are you doing to support the Open Web and bring about change?
A long running problem in messaging and consistency from advocates of both open source and standards has been the duplicate and overlapping efforts. The best recent example was the split within the RSS camp that resulted in a new Atom syndication format, which in the long-term did not manage to displace RSS and instead divided evangelism efforts. While a similar split along technology lines does not exist in the case of the new Open Data [sic] Foundation and the Data Portability project, it would seem that a more united and single-branded front would be more appropriate considering the shared agenda of both camps.
Hopefully, today’s announcement and the resulting coverage will help clear up the story and clarify the focus and intent of this new group.
The Open Web Foundation is positioning itself as a complimentary organization. DataPortability.org can handle the evangelism and the Open Web Foundation will do the behind the scenes work to help developers bring code to market. Not completely behind the scenes, but you know what they mean.
The OWF is not trying to compete with existing standards bodies (IETF, W3C, OASIS, etc.). The communities we’re working with are currently coming together in a very ad-hoc fashion, and if we can help them have clean intellectual property, it makes it easier for a community to take their open specification to a standards body.
And that sounds eerily similar to another organization with whom Dawn is deeply involved, Portland’s Legion of Tech.
Is the Open Web Foundation a competitor of the Data Portability project? In terms of mindshare? Absolutely. In terms of technology? Not really. Is that competition a bad thing? Not at all.
I’ve said it time and time again, competition—either real or perceived—defines a market. If you’re in a situation where you have no competition, you’re either so far ahead of the curve that no one can perceive the value you provide (and you may not survive long enough for anyone to catch up to your line of thinking) or you’re doing something in which no one will ever see any value.
Either way, a market without competition isn’t a market.
So as divisive as it seems right now, a little competition is a very good thing. Because it will push people to get things done. It will motivate people to keep things moving. It will force organizations to more tightly define their charters and to more stringently follow their own guidelines.
And—perhaps most importantly—it will give everyone a choice of where to spend their time and energy.
A monopoly doesn’t help anyone.
Okay, so what does the Open Web Foundation mean to me?
First and foremost, the Open Web Foundation will become the facilitator of open specifications. An umbrella resource that helps manage the continuing development of open specs and a means of ensuring consistency and compatibility among the variety of technologies currently in play.
As a developer, this means you gain a trusted resource—a partner in helping develop the open Web.
“We’re trying to create a nonprofit organization that will help these organizations work together,” said Recordon. “We need simplicity in these specifications.”
The thought? Instead of people having to create innumerable organizations to manage and support individual efforts, let’s just create one. One that supports all of the different projects.
The foundation is trying to break the trend of creating separate foundations for each specification, coming out of the realization that we could come together and generalize our efforts. The details regarding membership, governance, sponsorship, and intellectual property rights will be posted for public review and feedback in the following weeks.
No doubt, this foundation will have an effect on many efforts around the Silicon Forest. And with the Portland efforts around OpenID—and locals Dawn Foster and Scott Kveton among the founding individuals—the Open Web Foundation is sure to be part of our existence.
I, for one, am looking forward to the Open Web, and I applaud these folks taking this step forward.
OSCON 2008 will soon be wrapping up. And while there’s still a ton of good content to consume, there’s another important form of consumption that will be taking place on Thursday evening—and you’re encouraged to be there: Beerforge III.
According to Portland-based OpenSourcery’s Thomas King:
We’re coordinating with SourceForge to create a continuous party from immediately after the conference until the wee hours, at the Jupiter Hotel and Bossanova Ballroom, respectively. Transportation is free from the convention center, and it should be a blast.
Every once in a great while, I cover a company that doesn’t really “live” in Portland or the Silicon Forest. And I generally don’t do that—there are plenty of other resources that do that sort of thing far better than I—unless it has to the potential to influence what we’re trying to accomplish around here.
Etelos has that potential. And I got the chance to sit down with them at OSCON yesterday.
What’s the story? Well, Etelos provides a way of marketing and distributing open source apps for those folks who don’t have any desire to deal with marketing and sales.
Sound like someone you know? I thought it might.
And I think their marketplace idea might appeal to some of you.
The Etelos MarketplaceTM gives developers an easy place to license, distribute and support applications. The Etelos Marketplace also gives businesses a wide selection of fully customizable, on-demand business applications to license and deploy to the hosting environment of their choice.
“You take care of the code,” said Ahmad Baitalmal. “And we’ll take care of the rest.”
What’s that? Yes, yes, I hear you. “Why can’t I just do that with my current host?”
Simple answer? Instead of eschewing customization, these guys seem to thrive on it. They’re built so that every app gets exactly the environment it needs.
Let’s say you need an environment running PHP 5 with the latest Zend framework and MySQL 4.2 and you need it running with a certain amount of memory at its disposal. If you’re dealing with a traditional host, you just began a very lengthy conversation. And you just became a sysadmin instead of a developer. Not exactly where you want to be.
But with these guys, start throwing those specs at them and the response is likely “Okay.”
And you don’t have to be interested in selling your app. This may just be your distribution method.
Take for instance an idea that Justin Kistner has been discussing for some time that I like to call the “RedHat of WordPress.” The concept is based on the idea that every time you install a new WordPress blog—or every time you build a new environment for a client—you have to take an arduous journey of installing and updating every plugin you liked from your last installation. So what if—thought Justin—what if there was a “build” of WordPress that came with everything you needed and only one codebase to maintain that anyone could grab when they needed?
Etelos would be a great way to support that kind of distribution.
Or maybe you’ve built something you want to sell. Like the backbone for social mapping applications or the technology to aggregate calendars online or something.
Etelos could likely help you there too. They’d do all of the marketing and deal with the buying and selling. And all they’d take is a little cut of the revenue.
It’s an interesting concept that takes me back to the days of “shareware” distribution points like download.com and Tucows.
Back in the day, these download sites were incredibly popular place to find the latest in new and interesting software. They became destinations because of the variety of applications that they offered.
Etelos seems to have this same potential. And could serve a very similar role for open source apps.
It will be interesting to see if they can achieve that sort of notoriety. For both their company and the products they promote.
If you’re a developer who just wants to code and leave the business stuff to someone else? Etelos may be just what you needed.
For more information or to try Etelos for yourself, visit Etelos. Or if you’re at OSCON, swing by the Etelos booth to get a demo of their services.
If you’ve noticed a higher concentration of geeks in town as of late, there’s a good reason: OSCON 2008 is in full swing. The annual open source convention attracts a couple thousand open source aficionados to Portland.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time at the Oregon Convention Center, chatting with folks and watching open source rockstars walk around. And I’ve already had the opportunity to talk with a number of folks who have interesting stories to tell.
Some of those stories are Portland/Silicon Forest based. Like the EAUT story. Some of them are from outside our area—but could have direct impact on how we build and market products around here.
And now the real fun begins. Because, last night, OSCON 2008 moved from pre-conference to conference-conference.
Stay tuned for more on OSCON and the afterhours OSCON activities. I’ll try to provide some brief posts on what’s what as the conference progresses.
And, of course, I’ll be looking to do a roundup of posts on the event from local folks. So please do let me know if you’re writing stuff up.