How to Convince Your Management of the Need for an Open Source Program Office

Here is the simplest eye-opener that I have found in my consulting practice to convince management of the need for an open source program office:

Ask your manager to look at the open source license section under legal notices on their mobile phone. Ask them to scroll down to the end (they’ll never finish). Then point out that your product needs the same but doesn’t have it yet (if it doesn’t).

The reasoning behind this recommendation is that many managers simply don’t understand the extent to which open source is in their products. There is no better demonstration than to show them using a device they use frequently.

Time to Curb Your Open Source Wording

I view open source mostly from an economic perspective. From this point of view, some of the words people use are curious. For example, people like to talk about “giving back” to the community or “donating a project” to the public. These idioms have community building power, like insider speak among those who speak it, but to non-insiders, they are mostly confusing.

I feel pretty certain that these idioms slowed down the growth and adoption of open source. So let me use the two I just picked as an example and translate them.

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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. IEEE 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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How Software Engineering Teaching and the Legal Department Collide

Any non-trivial university has a legal department, often several (at least one for matters of teaching and one for matters of fundraising). The legal department concerned with teaching has to protect the university from lawsuits by students. By extension, this department protects students from professors who ask too much of them. Often, there may be good reasons for this. Sometimes it gets in the way of effective teaching.

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Inverted Research Funding

Most people believe that scientists first perform basic (“fundamental”) research and then perform applied research. Basic research delivers the fundamental insights that then get detailed and refined as they hit reality in applied research. Along with this comes the request that basic research funding should be provided by the country (because few companies would ever pay for it) before industry kicks in and supports applied research. Nothing could be further from the situation in my engineering process research.

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Translation (to German) of Interview on Open Source in the Public Sector

I recently was interviewed about open source in the public sector and blogged my answers here:

t3n magazin now (liberally) translated these to German. Check it out: Ich denke, dass Software mit offenem Quelltext längst gewonnen hat. (local copy).