Tuesday, March 09, 2010

How to build an open source community

Nice piece of work on how to build an open source community. Introduction and overview here. Meanwhile, you can find the book itself here and if you feel like contributing to its development, there is - in good old open source tradition - a wiki for just this purpose here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The mysterious attraction of Chat Roulette

An interesting video here on the subject of Chat Roulette. How to be nexted in one (slightly) painful lesson.

This is definitely towards the darker side of social media.

chat roulette from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

opensource.com versus "open source web"

I received this email from Red Hat this afternoon.  Interesting stuff:
Dear Red Hat Magazine readers,
We posted a little while back to let you know we were thinking about making some changes. And now we have some news.
We had to get all the i's dotted and t's crossed, but now that the ink is dry and we're warming up the servers, we wanted to invite you over to check out our new space. We haven't got all the furniture in yet, and it won't be exactly the same as Red Hat Magazine--but we hope you see the same potential in it that we do.
We're excited to introduce http://opensource.com

More and more, people are talking about open source principles at work in business, government, law, and education. We intend for opensource.com to be a place to share stories and ideas for places where open source is having an impact on the world. We want to shine a light on where the open source way is multiplying ideas and effort even beyond technology.

And we want you to be a part of the conversation.
Register, contribute, and comment. Starting with your ideas on what you think opensource.com should be:
This change also means the Red Hat Magazine email list will become the opensource.com email list. While opensource.com will not include technical content, our hope is that we will continue to provide many of the same kinds of interesting content that you were accustomed to receiving from Red Hat Magazine in the past.
We plan to send monthly updates with top-rated articles from highlights@opensource.com. If you're not interested in receiving these emails, you can always unsubscribe here.
You can also follow opensource.com on identi.ca or Twitter at @opensourceway
And subscribe to receive content feeds via RSS.
Want to get an idea of the kind of content you can expect to find on opensource.com? Here are few articles to get you started:
Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you at opensource.com.
Coincidentally, Alex Smith publishes an article on the British government's approach to data sharing over at LabourList today.  It's unclear if the terminology used - "open source web" - refers to access or software.  Some clarification would be useful.  If it does refer to the software and Gordon Brown does truly get the web, it would be nice to see a similar approach being implemented in our schools and further education colleges.

By the by, the Microsoft ad for Office I mentioned in a previous post has disappeared from my local further education college's intranet this evening.  Question is whether it will remain disappeared - but it does seem wrong that a publicly-funded institution should be selling the idea of Microsoft software to a captive audience.  Don't you think?  (Even more so if there's even the whiff of a commission changing hands.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Google Apps and the Open University

One of the reasons I set this site up with Google Apps was because of the opportunities the system seems to offer for online collaboration, which, in the context of working people and our socialisation, I'm most interested in exploring.  Google Wave itself is still in its infancy - if ever there was a time that it became a mature product, it would most certainly blow most of the competition out of the water.  That time is, however, some while away.  In the meantime, we have Apps.

Another project I've recently been involved in is www.thesmallprint-book.com.  There, I felt Apps was most suited to a potential second part - if, at any time, it was decided to create a second collection of short stories and poems, Apps would be a most suitable playground for organising complex teams, communications and documents in one place.  This may or may not happen in the future - the potential, nevertheless, is already built-in to the site should the need and desire arise.

Interestingly, a most significant player in education here in Britain has just announced that they also see value in Google's offering.  This from the Open University yesterday, and which came to me via John Naughton's Memex.  Fascinating days for Google in its battle to convince the big customers that it has viable technologies to replace traditional - and rather more proprietorial - offerings.  (Would that my local further education college take notice.  When you log on to their intranet, you get a rolling series of adverts in the top right-hand corner of the screen, one of which encourages you most forcefully to buy Microsoft's Office suite.  I do wonder, in a world where OpenOffice.org is freely available for download and Google Apps Standard Edition costs around $12 a year with domain included, how any training organisation can justify acting on behalf of Microsoft's marketing and sales department?  Shouldn't there be a law against it somewhere?)


I was at a reps meeting of my local committee yesterday and was told about www.unionreps.org.uk.  I've registered this morning.  It seems to run a little slowly and it tells you that you haven't registered for the email newsletter when your profile tells you that you have - but apart from these niggles, it seems a jolly useful idea.  Plenty of opportunities for training, exchanging information about issues in the workplace and networking with like-minded reps.

I'll report back when I've had an opportunity to use it a little more.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Driving open source in San Francisco (and maybe elsewhere too)

In the face of historic budget deficits, what can one do?  How about saving millions by not buying proprietary software licences, installation and training?  The alternative?  Forget the licences - just buy the installation and training.  More here on both how to effectively drive open source software policies in municipalities, as well as why, via Mr Penguin's Twitter feed.

So how about doing the same here in Britain?  Schools, councils and other public bodies are overrun with proprietary software licences that not only allow the providers to essentially own your intellectual property (without their software your data is worthless and migration costs are often horrendous) but also dictate when and how often you need to upgrade.  Neither of which happens with open source software which uses open document standards.

Interestingly, there is an official British government website on the subject but it tells this rather curious, and what's more, unhappily non-committal story:
Welcome to Open Source Academy. Our aim was to encourage the use of Open Source Software by local authorities through knowledge sharing and practical advice.

The OSA project ran from May 2005 and completed March 2006. Since then we have maintained the site because of the high level of interest.

We are unable to continue providing the resources needed to update and have therefore frozen all activity on this site.

For more information on the latest Open Source/Standards isues please link to the Open Forum Europe website.
If, however, you're interested in pursuing this subject - and you really ought to consider doing so - you might want to try looking through this case study on Bristol City Council's experience with the software suite StarOffice, based on the freely available and downloadable OpenOffice.org.

Left-leaning blogging initiatives

Some quick links here.  At TCF, where I've commented somewhat, there is this useful post I've already linked to at other sites.  Well worth reading for both the post and its associated debate.  I'd also like to draw your attention to my own rather tentative toe-dipping exercise in local blogging at Chester Tweet and this post in particular, which explains my reticences on the subject.

Meanwhile, the story of how local involvement can make real and immediate improvements to everyday lives can be tracked here.