Getting Started With Open Source Governance (Jeff McAffer, IEEE Computer Column)

I’m happy to report that the fourth article in the new Open Source Expanded column of IEEE Computer has been published.

TitleGetting Started With Open Source Governance
KeywordsCompanies, Licenses, Security, Software, Law
AuthorsJeff McAffer, GitHub
PublicationComputer vol. 52 (October 2019), pp. 92-96

Abstract: Using and managing open source is essential in modern software development. Here we lay out a framework for thinking about open source engagement and highlight the key steps in getting started.

As always, the article is freely available (local copy).

Also, check out the full list of articles.

Digital Sovereignty for Germany?

Last week the German government published a commissioned study on how it depends on software and services vendors (local copy). The day after the publication, Cathrin Schaer of ZDnet called to ask for my thoughts on the study and digital sovereignty for Germany: Is it even possible? Cathrin’s resulting article picked up some of our discussion, but I wanted to take the time here to elaborate on my thoughts.

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The Innovations of Open Source

Abstract: Open source has given us many innovations. This article provides an overview of the most important innovations and illustrates the impact that open source is having on the software industry and beyond. The main innovations of open source can be grouped into four categories: Legal innovation, process innovation, tool innovation, and business model innovation. Probably the best known innovations are open source licenses, which also define the concept.

Keywords: Open source, open collaboration, open innovation, software industry, business models

Reference: Riehle, D. (2019, April). The Innovations of Open Source. Computer vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 59-63.

The article is available in the IEEE library or as a web page.

Open Source Expanded (New Column)

Open Source Expanded is the name of a new column (open-ended article series) that I’m editing for IEEE Computer Magazine. Expect a new article on open source and how it is changing the world every two months!

The first article on the innovations of open source was just published, kicking of the column. I could not negotiate an open license, however, all articles will be free to read and download.

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Why Open Source is Good for Your Economy (FOSSC19 Recap)

It is no secret that software is everywhere. No traditional product has remained untouched, whether the product is being produced using software or whether software is an integral part of it. As part of this wave of digitization, established vendors from outside the software industry need to avoid that someone else will reap all the profits from their products. That someone else would be software companies that supply needed components. In particular software platforms can have such network effects that their providers can reach a monopoly position so that dependent vendors who need the platform will face a diminishing profit margin.

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Too Many Points of Failure (at Theranos)

I just finished reading John Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood, which presents the story of the rise and fall of one-time Silicon Valley unicorn Theranos through his eyes as the journalist who broke the story. In case you missed it: Theranos was a healthcare company promising to sell a machine that could perform quickly and reliably a large number of blood tests needed by medical doctors to aid their patient care. The hitch: The technology never worked and Theranos managed to hide this from investors and the public for a long time.

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It Does Exist!

During a trip to Porto’s Ceija I was able to confirm that one of the professorial caste’s most cherished yet elusive objects does exist: The conceptual machine.

In this case, it is a 3D metal printer, and it printed this piece of hardware (and many others); this one took about 12h to finish.

The Innovations of Open Source Kolloquium Talk at University of Hamburg

Update 2019-01-30: The talk slides and a video recording (local copy) are available now.


I got invited and will be presenting a talk in the colloquium of the computer science department at the University of Hamburg tomorrow, January 28th, 2019, at 17:00 Uhr. The talk topic are the innovations of open source and I will present a broad-brush account of open source as well as the industry problems and research challenges it poses. The talk is open to the public. Hope to see you there!