First, some quotes
“I am a sociologist. I study open source programmers.”
“She works for SUN!”
“What I want…I want not to be like what you just said.”
“Brent’s law of CMS URLs: the more expensive the CMS, the crappier the URLs”
CMSes that seem to have traction
There were lots of talks by CMS vendors. The following CMSes stood out as the subjects of talks by people who are deploying with them:
WebGUI – To be used by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard
TYPO3 – In production at the University of Missouri/Rolla
Zope Content Management Framework – Powers the next version of Boston.Com, which will be going live some time this week
Open source: what and why
A recurring theme was what it means to be open source and why to be open source. The first panel on Wednesday had representatives from several open source companies. They were charged with answering the question, can you make money with open source? The answer was of course, “yes, and the fact that we’re here proves it.” But this is a glib answer because it doesn’t take long-term viability into account.
A poignant answer came from Ed Kelly, an attorney who services a number of VC firms. He summarized the VC viewpoint thusly
It’s hard to make money from software no matter what. You give up certain business advantages by being open source, so you’d better be able to a) show that you planned to be open source all along
rather than having stumbled into it b) point to specific business advantages that motivated your choice.
The open source companies pointed to the marketing and labor advantages of being open source.
I was mildly disappointed that this panel was oriented towards business. Profits are concrete and indisputable. From a pure business perspective it’s hard to argue for giving up a revenue stream. Well I guess it’s the Ph.D. in me, but I would have really enjoyed more discussion about philosophy and the effects of economic models on innovation and distribution of wealth.
In his keynote, Dave Winer asked the end users in audience why they would choose open source over commercial software (he didn’t like the term “proprietary”). The consensus was:
1. I don’t want my data locked in a closed format.
2. I want to be able to pay someone to fix bugs in this program five and ten years from now.
Dave pointed out that these goals can be accomplished with software that is not freely redistributable. Some of Userland’s products, for example, ship with source code because Dave knew that a small portion of users would actually inspect and maybe change it. Dave’s assumption was that this wouldn’t lead to massive amounts of unauthorized redistribution. This is an interesting middle ground. Another option batted around was the idea of putting source code in escrow, so that consumers wouldn’t be helpless if the producer went out of business or otherwise failed to fix bugs.
Okay this isn’t everything but I’m tapped out.