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GNU is Not Unix

Researching The Open Source Way 50

A reader writes: "Eugene Eric Kim, who also writes on the webservices channel on, has posted a research report on open source communities. The two projects/communities studied were Touchgraph and Squirrelmail, examining how they work together." Looking at it, I think the research report was sponsored by The Omidyar Foundation, who are the EBay founders; and the report is also licensed under the Creative Commons license.
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Researching The Open Source Way

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  • Let's not! (Score:2, Funny)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 )
    Let's live in a society where all source is closed, and programmers get paid for their contributions!

    (And then fired, and forced to work on opensource projects to keep their skills up while looking for work.)

    Oh, wait, we're there already.
    • by IAR80 ( 598046 )
      I would rather live live in a society where most source is open and programers are paid from governmental research funds and when they are thrown out of a project they will have to work in a corporte environment and code in visual basic untill they get back on track.
      • Re:Let's not! (Score:3, Informative)

        by B3ryllium ( 571199 )
        That would be cool.

        Of course, that's kind of what I'm doing - government-funded opensource development. Wee :) Not research funds, though.
        • I know what you mean m8. I used to work in government funded environment but due to lack of funds I am right know in the corporate world and sudenly transformed into reality.
      • Re:Let's not! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CrayzyJ ( 222675 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:33PM (#5711284) Homepage Journal
        and WHERE oh WHERE does the government get _its_ funds? This reminds me of a local commercial where a state rep was trying to get some funding for a new pork barrel, and he said "Don't worry, half the project will be funded from the US Government so it's not coming out of your pockets." Ummm....right, because the government holds bake sales every weekend?

        • Perhaps the poster meant that government funds already earmarked for software development or research should go to Open Source projects rather than to private companies.

          I don't mind paying taxes when the benefit is going to everyone (as opposed to just the campaign contributers).
      • You are both SO off-track!

        Everybody knows that computers are evil, and that programmers are all long-haired slackers anyway. It was such a mistake to place so much faith in computers for the last two decades, and the bust just proves it. All of us who were foolish enough to waste time getting a computer science degree rightly deserve to be unemployed right now. We should all stop using computers immediately and get good solid jobs as CFOs or used car salespeople, as that will instantly solve all of the wor

  • is the continuing copyright-extension fight.

    In the future, responsible academics and other researchers will all attach liberal-use licenses (hopefully ones putting the documents into the public domain or similar) to such research documents, so that they're not still under onerous restrictions 80 years (or, say, 99) after the study has been done. Maybe there is some exception (though none spring to mind) where a company / organization believes that it will be able to benefit substantially by withholding suc
  • by ( 562495 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @11:27AM (#5710761) Homepage
    isn't this same as doing master's thesis/project with a large number of group member? i dont see the difference.
    • You misread the lede (Score:4, Informative)

      by dowobeha ( 581813 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:31PM (#5711271)
      This story is primarily about doing research about open source projects - hence

      "Researching The Open Source Way" == "Conducting research that examines open source projects"

      It does not mean "Conducting research in a model based on open source development"

      Or even "Publishing your research under an open source licence"

      (although this research was published under an open source licence, that was not the point of the paper)

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Friday April 11, 2003 @11:45AM (#5710921) Homepage Journal
    I'm a little suspicious that it might be steered a little -too- pro-Open Source, but that's another matter.

    The most interesting part of this article is that it is reasonably open, itself. The main reason that companies "own" a lot of Intellectual Property is that they either sponsor it in a University, where all the smart people are, or they buy it from the University later. Or, in some cases, just steal it and hope nobody notices.

    If there is now a grassroots movement to start publishing at least some core research under free or free-ish licenses, then this can't happen. However, there's not a lot the companies can do about it.

    I'm going to guess that one article isn't going to scare anyone. BUT, if we see more and more free/free-ish papers, especially peer-reviewed, then the situation may change. Universities don't pay their employees much (!!) at present, so selling their souls to private companies is often the only way to eke out a living for researchers and lecturers.

    Now, if we take away an entire chunk of that chain, what happens? The researchers still need to eat, but their work is now usable and verifiable by anyone. They're not going to get paid by companies for something that's open, as the company can't patent that. Never mind they can still make money, they won't see it that way. Too blinkered by far.

    So where to the academics get their money? From the University, if the University wants to retain any staff. In turn, this means that the Universities will need to get more cash. They can't charge students much more than they do, so that means they'll be forced to demand - yes, demand, not ask - for more money from State and Federal Government. The threat? No cash, no school.

    Instead of treating schools as something to be kicked around, and maybe paid a few cents to keep them quiet, you'll (slowly) start to see budgets for education move out of single digit dollars and become closer to being on-par with other sectors.

    Ok, this may seem like a massive leap. Where's my proof? The British system, and all the changes it has been through in the past 30-40 years, shows one thing very clearly. Education is bistable. It can EITHER operate through sponsorship from companies, OR through grants from Government.

    Universities don't generate revenue, per se, they merely generate the MEANS to generate revenue. As such, they will always cost more than they can directly obtain, but they will ALWAYS be far more profitable to support than to let rot.

    If, as I hope, this is the start of a trend to make academia truly open and unencumbered, then companies won't be interested. They can't control the product, they can't even control the institute. AT&T found that out, with the BSD tapes. Berkeley simply re-wrote them.

    Here's hoping that one nail in the coffin of the corporate power-block has finally been hammered into place.

    • So, we pay more in taxes to support education systems which produce stuff which companies can't patent. No patents means they probably can't monopolize something and charge higher prices, so we may see lowered prices in the marketplace for some products/services, but only by paying more taxes to support education? Doesn't sound all that hot to me...
      • I think the point is not that taxes go up, it is that the budget of the government shifts to favor education. It sounds like a delightful idea, however this may just be wishful thinking. Wait and see, I guess.
        • So the Teacher's Unions and AFSCME get pay raises. Students get the same education, probably with higher tuiton. We get higher taxes.

          • Let's look at the Total Cost, for a moment. If you add the (hypothetical) extra taxes for one product, and then subtract the (hypothetical) reduction in prices over a wide range of products, then factor in any compound interest, do you end up spending more or less?

            If taxes doubled, but the net cost of living went down by as much (or more) than the hike in taxes, you're going to win. It's not a question of who you pay, it's a question of what you've got left at the end.

    • Company X patents something in the US that happens (in say India) but isn't patentable.
      They then get the WIPO to enforce the patent in India forcing the Indian company to pay royalties for something stolen by a US company.
  • We may not agree with everything RMS has to say, but is it fair to use the "GNU is Not Unix" logo/category on an article with a headline about "Open Source" rather than "Free Software"? That's bound to antagonise some people who could probably do without it.
  • The Omidyar Foundation was brought to you by The Omigod Consortium. Hmm... the names are kind of.. strange..

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