Monthly Archive for June, 2007

Want a free trip to OSCON?

Jive Software is giving away a free trip to OSCON for the person with the best blog entry about how Jive products have helped his / her organization. I’ve posted the details on the Jive Talks blog.

It is a Crazy World We Live in!

Five years ago if someone told me that Apple was making a cell phone and thousands of people would wait in line for days to get one, I would have laughed and pronounced them a “crazy person”! Yet, here we are. Some people are trying to sell their spots in line for as much as $5000, ARs Technica is live blogging from the line on Cincinnati, and others are blogging when the UPS truck arrives with the shipment.

I personally know of a number of people currently waiting in line at various stores right now. Am I planning to join them in line? No. I am not giving up my 3G Blackjack for a 2G iPhone when I use the data plan extensively, and I really like having a removable battery for critical devices (I always keep a spare charged battery in my bag!) If the iPhone was 3G with a removable battery, would I be one of those crazy people in line right now? Maybe. :-)

What are Your Favorite Podcasts

I admit it, I am a podcast addict. I listen to podcasts whenever can: while driving, grocery shopping, doing laundry, washing dishes, walking, working out … you get the idea. I thought it would be interesting to share my favorite podcasts and encourage a few others to do the same:

Tech Podcasts:

  • Buzz Out Loud
  • CNET Daily Tech News Podcast
  • Cranky Geeks (when I can find time)
  • Digital Planet (BBC)
  • InfoWorld Daily Podcast
  • Net@Nite
  • PRI’s The World: Technology (when I can find time)
  • Redmonk Radio Podcast (depending on the topic)
  • TWIT
  • Wall Street Journal Tech news Briefing
  • Occasional conference podcasts (sxsw, etc.)

Business / News:

  • Business Week Cover Stories
  • Business Week Technology & You
  • New York Times Front Page
  • HBR IdeaCast
  • NPR Business Story of the Day
  • Science Friday – Making Science Radioactive

I’m officially tagging a few people with the challenge: What are Your Favorite Podcasts?

Marshall Kirkpatrick, Josh Bancroft, Coté, Audrey Eschright, and Chris Brentano – blog about your favorite podcasts and tag 5 other people.

Others – please jump in, blog, and tag another 5 people.

Portland BarCamp Technology Meetup on June 28th

I wanted to remind everyone that our next informal Portland BarCamp Meetup is next week on Thursday, June 28th. We had a fantastic time at BarCamp and are interested in continuing to network with other local techies. These events are held on the fourth Thursday of every month through October (July is canceled due to OSCON and November / December are TBD due to holidays). The meetings are not highly structured, and you can arrive whenever it is most convenient if you can’t make it at 5:30.

When: Thursday, June 28th
Time: 5:30pm – 8:00 pm
Where: Jive Software Office (317 SW Alder St Ste 500)
Sponsored by: Jive Software

Jive Software is located on Alder near 3rd (directions). Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk from the Max / bus lines.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Portland BarCamp Meetup wiki: http://barcamp.org/BarCampPortlandMeetups

The meetup will be very informal and similar in format to previous meetups. We’ll network, do a few introductions, talk for a few minutes about organizing the next BarCamp / DemoCamp, and then see where the discussion goes.

Please feel free to invite a few others to join us (just make sure they RSVP)! Please encourage them to join our Google Group to receive email announcements about any last minute changes, future meetups, and other PortlandBarCamp communications.

The next meetup will be on Thursday, August 23rd.

Free Licenses of Jive Software Products

How cool is it that part of my job is giving away free copies of Clearspace X and Jive Forums to open source projects and developer user groups (like JUGs, etc.)? We’ve been giving away free licenses for a while, but last week I streamlined the application process with fewer questions and a simple web form to apply. Interested open source projects and user groups can get all of the details by reading my Ignite Realtime blog post on the topic.

Community Building and Free Documentation

Andy Oram conducted an interesting survey to answer the question, “Why Do People Write Free Documentation?” I was a bit surprised by the top result: community building.

As a community manager, I love to see that people are contributing documentation to projects as a way to help build the community. This also emphasizes a point that I have made several times during speaking engagements when people ask about motivation for contributing to communities or open source projects. My answer is always something like this, “Like any diverse groups of individuals, motivations for contributing will vary widely depending on the individual. Some people use it as a learning experience, some want fame (rockstar mentality) or other reputation building, some do it to help others, …” While community building is at the top of the list, the other motivations follow very closely behind: personal growth, mutual aid, gratitude, support, reputation, and more. Although this survey is focused on documentation, it still helps validate the idea that the motivations of individual community members are diverse.

As a community manager, I almost wish that there was a clear winner in the survey with one motivation standing out high above the others. It would make my job easier. Since no one way of encouraging people to participate within a community will work for every member, we sometimes have to get creative.

The survey is a great read for anyone interested in motivation within communities.

Microsoft’s Change of Heart on Software Patents

I just read an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times written by Timothy B. Lee about the evolution of Microsoft’s view on software patents:

WHAT a difference 16 years makes. Last month, the technology world was abuzz over an interview in Fortune magazine in which Bradford Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, accused users and developers of various free software products of patent infringement and demanded royalties. Indeed, in recent years, Mr. Smith has argued that patents are essential to technological breakthroughs in software.

Microsoft sang a very different tune in 1991. In a memo to his senior executives, Bill Gates wrote, “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.” Mr. Gates worried that “some large company will patent some obvious thing” and use the patent to “take as much of our profits as they want.” (Quote from Timothy B. Lee in the NYT)

Interesting, but not entirely unexpected, change of heart.

I also read the rest of the Bill Gates’ memo in addition to what was quoted by Lee. Here’s the entire patent section of the memo:

PATENTS: If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. I feel certain that some large company will patent some obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm, application extension or other crucial technique. If we assume this company has no need of any of our patents then the have a 17-year right to take as much of our profits as they want. The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can. Amazingly we havn’t done any patent exchanges tha I am aware of. Amazingly we havn’t found a way to use our licensing position to avoid having our own customers cause patent problems for us. I know these aren’t simply problems but they deserve more effort by both Legal and other groups. For example we need to do a patent exchange with HP as part of our new relationship. In many application categories straighforward thinking ahead allows you to come up with patentable ideas. A recent paper from the League for Programming Freedom (available from the Legal department) explains some problems with the way patents are applied to software. (Quote from a Bill Gates Memo)

Microsoft is saying that there are “problems with the way patents are applied to software”, but the “solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can.” In other words, Microsoft planned to patent as much as they could to avoid having other companies take advantage of them. It is interesting to see their current behavior toward the Linux and open source community in light of these 1991 views.

Our current patent system stifles innovation from smaller companies and organizations without large patent portfolios at their disposal (like many Linux and open source projects). The patent process is also expensive, thus rewarding large companies who can afford to have a staff of patent lawyers. I have not entirely decided whether software patents are a really bad idea in general (I suspect that they are). I do think that we need significant patent reform and better reviews of existing and proposed patents by industry experts who have the knowledge to determine whether or not a patent is obvious.

What Does it Mean for Movable Type to go Open Source?

While I like to see Movable Type going in the direction of open source, I am also a bit skeptical. According to Movabletype.org:

“The Movable Type Open Source Project was announced in conjunction with the launch of the Movable Type 4 Beta on June 5th, 2007. The MTOS Project is a community and Six Apart driven project that will produce an open souce version of the Movable Type Publishing Platform that will form the core of all other Movable Type products.”

Aside from their inability to correctly spell open source (or run spell check), they are not particularly clear about what will be in this new open source “publishing platform” vs. their commercial products. By announcing the new open source project along with the beta of their new version (not open source), it is a bit difficult to see how the open source project will fit in with their commercial products. I suspect that some of this announcement might be to put Movable Type in a better position when compared to open source rival WordPress to reduce the numbers of people migrating off of Movable Type due to licensing concerns over the past few years.

Skepticism aside, I really do like to see commercial companies embrace open source. If Movable Type embraces the open source community in a collaborative fashion, this could be a great step. Companies who work with a community to create an open source product that is awesome by itself when used without the commercial product can successfully sell commercial products with additional functionality and services needed by enterprise customers. I sincerely hope that this is the direction that Movable Type is headed.