by Bryan Kirschner on July 18, 2008 01:09pm


On July 21 I will have the honor and pleasure of being the sponsor, host, and an active participant in participate08. participate08 is a one-day summit held in coordination with the O'Reilly Open Source Conference(OSCON). It is designed to facilitate dialogue about open source and other collaborative communities and help explore opportunities for greater participation in the design, development, and deployment of software in the modern IT environment.

The reasons I think it is cool are mostly personal as well as professional. The work of Harvard’s Karim Lakhani (our facilitator in the morning and moderator in the afternoon) has been one of the biggest influences on my perspective on free and open source software (...that’s kind of a pun…). I haven’t been familiar with panelist Siobhan O’Mahony’s work quite as long, but she is one of, if not “the” leading researcher on how firms work with open source communities. Her work quite literally helps me figure out how to do my job. Panelist John Wilbanks runs the Science Commons project at Creative Commons, an endeavor I think has a good solid foundation in elements of brilliance. Speaking of which, Zack Urlocker is a super smart guy. And Allison Randal has her own standing tagline with me as “one of the most thoughtful people in FOSS.”

Sometimes we have to focus on what I’ll call day-to-day issues: like what if a Microsoft team releases an application under an open source license (the Ms-PL) without making the source code available? (The answer is: the team, whose disconnect with our policy was 100% accidental and unintended—stepped up to strongly affirm their commitment to OSS best practices and voluntarily released it with source code, to their great credit.) These are important. Most of the time (as in this case) things turn out positively. But participate08 is focused on the big picture, or macro level issues—the future of distributed innovation in software and beyond; being a part of that sort of discussion with folks like our panelists is just mind-blowingly cool.

In the morning, we’ll be holding a small group, facilitated “executive session”—in the afternoon, the panel will star in an open session where we hope to have a great dialogue among the panel—and with the audience. If you will be at OSCON I hope you’ll join us in E145 at 1:30 PM!