Tue 17 Feb 2015 4:38AM

What do we mean when we say "Open"?

AI Alanna Irving Public Seen by 132

We took a stab at addressing this question:

> In recent times, the word open has been used and abused. For us open means aiding and encouraging the human urge to share, explore and improve. Anything that thwarts peoples’ desire to share, explore, and improve is closed, not open. The recent move towards openness in the digital world was enabled by the Internet, as the most powerful communications infrastructure that has ever existed, which was built on free and open source software. This digital movement taps into the underlying human urge for openness that has always existed. OS//OS is a celebration of efforts to consciously reverse practises that deny people the right to share, to participate, to collaborate. We celebrate “the commons”, both physical and virtual, and work to improve commonly-held resources that benefit all, rather than exploit them for our own limited gain.

In his keynote talk, Dave Lane will help give us the language for the next two days. What do we mean when we say open? He'll expand on the thinking above and bring into the room some of the conversation we're having here on Loomio on this topic.

Dave Lane is President of the NZ Open Source Society, and an advocate of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) adoption in business, education and government. He works for Catalyst IT, which in 2012 acquired Egressive, the FOSS company he founded in 1998. Among many other interests, he is passionate about his adopted home, NZ, and would love to see the government and education become far more open for the inherent social, economic, and pedagogical advantages openness offers. He goes to great lengths to use FOSS exclusively himself, he's a fan of anyone who knows what "Commons-based peer production" and "permissionless innovation" are, and he has been advocating for "open" since long before it was cool.


Silvia Zuur Mon 16 Mar 2015 11:28PM

@dimitar1 I think that is where Loomio has a great role to play - just even this conversation is a new way to communicate!


Dave Lane Mon 16 Mar 2015 11:30PM

@dimitar1 it's not so much that the means of communications differ in FOSS projects, it's that the incentives and motivations to communicate differ. Pride in one's craft (technical correctness), reputation, and posterity are the main motivators rather than profit maximisation (and, by corollary, minimising cost/time spent)...


Dimitar Tue 17 Mar 2015 11:44AM

how about the idea of an open-government? From your experience would you say OS communities are self-governed (and if so how on earth is that achieves as it sounds very messy) or is there clear leadership and strict hierarchy ?

Note: I speak about governance because every organization should have some vision, mission and values which usually define the aims and means of governance.


Greg Cassel Tue 17 Mar 2015 3:33PM

This comment is based on the dialogue between @dimitar1 and @davelane here, in case you wanted two more cents. :)

Governance 'needs' may vary greatly based on the perceived nature of a community or constellation of communities. One can define communities descriptively and/or prescriptively. I don't advocate strict definitions.

I'm rather focused on infrastructural governance matters related to vision, mission and values. Such issues are important IMO for all sorts of social organization, even such potentially loose and 'free' types as discussion groups and information networks. I guess that a truly FOSS software project/community could be described as a sort of information and/or action network? Does that make sense to you @davelane ?


Greg Cassel Tue 17 Mar 2015 5:05PM

For personal context, my one (co-administered) group Bridge the Divide is a rather 'loose and free' community as I used that term above. BTD is quite ambitious in a mostly unorganized, organic way. I've begun to think of it as a rehumanization project.

To some people, BTD is simply a group or a community, but I'm acutely aware that there's always at least a little implicit and explicit power structure in online groups. There is form in such groups, regardless of whether or not the form is formalized beyond the group description and the assignment of administrative controls. At BTD, we take our vision and principles seriously. We've long struggled to articulate our vision and our form in a way which causes the least possible coercive harm. (I'm an 'anarchwishtic' thinker. I think that all coercion causes harm, and must be justified with respect to creating greater overall freedom and opportunity.)

At BTD, we try to facilitate a generally respectful and supportive environment, along the lines of public sphere theory. We want people to feel safe enough to discuss controversial subjects with uncommon depth of thought and feeling. I'd like to think this is part of an 'open society' future.

BTD is considering new administrative policies and procedures which strongly emphasize the role of all peers in promoting the community's mission and values. We're hoping to develop an organic clarity and consistency for the critical, but deliberately minimized, role of group administrators. That role is based in consensus deliberation and decision process. Anyone please feel free to check out the policies and procedures ideas here. Feedback is welcome.

Looking beyond that discussion group, I have the same basic views on 'legislative' and 'judicial' governance matters in general. I advocate collective hierarchies (of stakeholders) and inclusive team-based initiatives, instead of personally concentrated authority. I support radical freedom of information, and the emergence of collective intelligence through openly known processes.
I think these principles ought to hold for a wide range of open source projects and, and an increasingly open society on all scales of social organization.


Dave Lane Tue 17 Mar 2015 9:55PM

@gregorycassel BTD looks interested based on my superficial glance... I think that you're right about FOSS community power structures and the lack of formality... they do tend to organise organically. Projects and communities succeed or fail based on whether the "culture" that emerges is compelling to a critical mass of participants or not. In most of these communities, leaders emerging based on motivation to make progress and available time to contribute. Most leadership is of the "well no one else was doing it" or "I had time and interest and didn't even realise I was being a leader" variety... To my way of thinking this is the best sort of leadership. Some communities are small and tight-knit, others are sprawling and inclusive. There are many different emergent FOSS community cultures out there, and it seems that more than a few can be successful. I guess the key thing here is that FOSS communities are not much different from any other kind of spontaneous groups of people. What makes them a bit different is that their activities are better documented than many types of groups, with informal artefacts of their collaboration and culture like website content, news releases, issue queues, source code and comments, software roadmaps, changelogs, and mailing list discussions being available for all to see and study without requiring anyone's permission.


Dave Lane Thu 19 Mar 2015 12:24AM

On another note, I was just made aware of this very well written article in the New Yorker recognising the 30 years of "Free Software"... I consider it essential reading for those who want to know where the "open" revolution started... http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-gnu-manifesto-turns-thirty


Megan Salole Wed 25 Mar 2015 10:12PM

My thoughts on OPEN BUSINESS:

I think that we need to redefine metrics for success to be able to engage fully with the potential for Open Business.

A key shift is distributed benefits, rather than profit maximisation for shareholders.

At this moment in time the dominant success metric is financial, rather than being able to say that a business is hugely successful because all employees are paid a living wage and are involved in the decisions that affect them, that there is transparency about the impacts of that business etc.

So the question for me is how does society reward businesses that tend towards open? What mechanism will create this impetus?

My instinct is that Government procurement plays a crucial role in this. The now defunct Govt3 programme was enormously successful - because the Govt contracts are worth so much and private businesses were clamouring over each other to prove their sustainability credentials so that they would be considered for these lucrative contracts.

Once the business is on a track to measure and monitor performance, this moves the bar for all businesses.


Denjello Thu 26 Mar 2015 12:13AM

@gregorycassel +1 for "anarchwishtic". Took me a second to pronounce, but its just brilliant. You are now the official name-giver of "anarchwishism", and the posterity of this thread will prove that.


Megan Salole Thu 26 Mar 2015 9:41AM

Here is a practical question - if we were to open source the photography and documentation of the event, what would be the best place for people to post to?

Instagram is clearly not open source... Should we be posting to flickr with Creative Commons licensing https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ ?

What should the protocols be for people not wanting to be photographed or their likeness open licensed? Anyone got strong opinions/ideas? @davelane ?

I'd love to do some timelapse - especially of the graphic facilitation. Does anyone have any expertise/interest in this?

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