BizLegFoss Final Exam
2015 05 18
What a delightfully bizarre class this has been. Assignments that were sometimes made up on the fly, due dates that were more rough suggestions than actual deadlines, 3 times more blog posts than I have ever made in my life, and about 5 weeks of IRC classes. While I can't say I enjoyed every minute of it, it was still quite an experience. So, in the appropriate fashion, the final exam of the class is a blog post. I wonder how many other classes at RIT has a blog-post-final-exam. It's probably 0, right? Anyways, after this long and unnecessary introduction paragraph, it's time to answer these questions.
- When does code you create become copyrighted?
- When you save it out to a file.
- If you could wave a magic wand, and open source any piece of proprietary software, what software would you choose?
- As cars become more and more computers with some neat peripherals attached (like steering columns, gasoline engines, and wheels), the software that powers cars should be open sourced. By extension, that software should be easily user-upgradeable, since security patches seem like they would be pretty dang important.
- If the software above was open sourced, would it’s [sic] company remain stable? How would the company continue to make money?
- This is like the ultimate form of widget frosting, so I imagine car companies would be perfectly fine, if not slightly higher sales from really hardcore hackers who want to develop for cars. The future is now! Or at least in my imagination!
- What do you feel like was the most beneficial thing to learn in the class?
- I have a much better grasp of the various OSI licenses available to me. More accurately, I now have enough of a grasp to just use GPLv2 and hope nothing explodes. Licenses are complicated!
- Explain the some of the motivations a company may have to open source software.
- I'm quite tempted to just link to the reading this question clearly is derived from and leave it at that, but I won't. I will instead copy and paste from it, and since I have now linked to it, I have fulfilled the BY portion of the CC license.
Start block quote
Advantage: Development Speed
It follows that commercial developers leveraging the bazaar mode should be able to grab, and keep, a substantial initiative advantage over those that don't. But there's more; the first commercial developer in a given market niche to switch to this mode may gain substantial advantages over later ones.
Why? Because the pool of talent available for bazaar recruitment is limited. The first bazaar project in a given niche is more likely to attract the best co-developers to invest time in it. Once they've invested the time, they're more likely to stick with it.
Advantage: Lower Overhead
Switching to the open-source model should also be good for a significant overhead reduction in per-project software production costs.
The open-source model allows software shops to (in effect) outsource some of their work, paying for it in values less tangible than money. (But perhaps not less economically significant; the increased speed with which an outside co-developer can have a needed bug fix will often translate into a substantial opportunity gain for that customer.)
This means smaller shops will be able to handle bigger projects.
Advantage: Closeness to the Customer
One of the most often-repeated pieces of management advice is "Stay close to the customer." In today's fast-moving, short-product-cycle business climate it's more important than ever to do that - to understand almost as soon as they do what the customers want and be able to rapidly respond to those needs.
If you sell software, what better way to do this than by co-opting your customers' engineers to help your development?
It's worth pointing out that the open-source, bazaar method resembles the way many successful Japanese companies have done consumer product development; get a product to market that works but is not perfect, and iterate quickly based upon customer feedback to reach the combination of features that the customers need and want. This has turned out to be especially valuable for high technology products (laptops, personal assistants, cellphones, etc) that people don't know they need, or what features they need.
Advantage: Broader Market
An important side-effect of the open-source model will be a much wider platform range for your product. Open-source authors frequently find themselves receving [sic], for free, port changes for operating systems and environments they barely know exist and can't afford developers to support. Each such port, of course, widens the market appeal of the product.
end block quote (Hurrah for Creative Commons!)
- Are there any changes you would suggest making to the profile template? What parts did you find most interesting or important?
- The EFF section (as much as I love them) seems a bit out of place. It feels like most of it is covered to various extents in previous sections of the template. As such, the EFF section just feels liked a tacked on afterthought. I found the questions related to community architecture and repo structures the most interesting. I've often found that the hardest part of getting into a given open source project is figuring out just where the hell to go to either get source code, file bugs, or just get started in general. Speaking of filing bugs, why isn't there a section for listing the bug tracker(s) URL?
- If you could have spent more time, say an extra week, on any topic, which
would you have liked to cover more in depth?
- I would say licenses. I feel like we went just deep enough where I feel like I have an understanding, but then I forget one key thing and end up getting sued somehow. I feel like there's a weird level of understanding in many fields where you just enough to seem knowledgeable, then people assume you know what you're talking about and you get deep into a rabbit hole. Maybe that's just me.
- Why are you using license insert license X here for your open source project?
- I don't actually have a lot of actual open source projects, but my only "real" project is under public domain. This is before I knew the intricacies of the "real" OSI licenses, and I don't really care what people end up doing with the project anyway. If someone can turn that pile of barely functional garbage into a commercial project, then go for it. I would be quite impressed, honestly. All that being said, I still really like the WTFPL. That's the sort of legally binding license I can get behind.
- If you would suggest a video to be watched as part of this course, what would it be?
- This video explains the difference between the GPL and the LGPL pretty well. He's also a real actual lawyer (or at least his lower third says he is), so that's pretty neat. That video by itself probably wouldn't constitute a vidreview, but his channel has a whole boatload of licensing related videos, and some other fun startup related stuff (which may or may not be relevant to this course).
Wow, that was pretty painless.