Third Wave Book?

Last week I had an enjoyable conversation with my old friend Randall Schwartz on Leo Laporte's TWiT.tv (which to my surprise was broadcast libe too). It was published on Friday, although I've not had the chance to listen yet as I am connected to the internet via dial-up for the weekend.

The conversation - discussing Sun's open source strategy - is one I have had so many times over the last few months that I wonder if it would be worth writing a book. If you have the time to listen to the podcast, I'd be interested in your thoughts as to whether a book about the third wave of open source and its impact on the software business would be worthwhile. Let me know, by comment or e-mail.

Comments:

Simon, The guys that ran that interview need to be shot!

I hope that people listen past the first 7 minutes and ignore the last 7 minutes. Those guys just like the sound of their own voices. Do they have any understanding of FOSS issues? Ugh.

I appreciate the views that you expressed, but when it comes to the ombudsman's role at Sun I feel compelled to warn people that messages sent to that email address will attract a heavy dose of Sun's corporate view. I know, as you have emailed me, that you disagree strongly with my claims that you (Sun) have an entrenched position. Hey, I have one too!

For those people who want to get a reaction from Simon and his crew, mention the words "entrenched position".

I am in two minds. I applaud Sun's contribution to open source, but I condemn your inability to make money from it.

You were hired in the year 2000 and you have been influential in guiding Sun's open source direction. It is now the year 2008. Tell me... will we see Sun make money before the end of 2010?

Posted by John Birrell on September 06, 2008 at 11:20 AM PDT #

So I take it that's a big "no".

Oh, while I joined Sun in 2000, as I said in the interview I only started this job in 2005 after gradually getting sucked into it. The direction I've been advocating has only really taken hold in the last 18 months so it's still early days.

As for making a profit - no idea, and in my view dependent on whether Sun's executives can execute on a correct open source vision.

Posted by Simon Phipps on September 07, 2008 at 05:56 AM PDT #

Simon: I thought it was a good interview, and my flatmate who overheard part of it was interested enough to listen to more of it and sent him the link (he's not a software guy at all).

John: In terms of open source strategy, I think you need to realize exactly where Sun has come from in terms of being a proprietary company with a hell of a lot of internal processes and procedures. As Simon mentioned in the interview, we're not where we want to be, we still have work to do, but you shouldn't underestimate how \*huge\* a change that Simon (and others) have influenced.

Posted by Glynn Foster on September 07, 2008 at 05:06 PM PDT #

"I hope that people listen past the first 7 minutes and ignore the last 7 minutes. Those guys just like the sound of their own voices. Do they have any understanding of FOSS issues? Ugh."

Really. Do you know who I am, or what I've done for FLOSS over the years? Perhaps not. Try googling "Randal Schwartz Perl" some day, or checking my wikipedia entry, or looking at the books and magazine articles that I've provided, or the money I've contributed to the Perl Institute and the time I've given to Perl User Groups around the world, or online for Perlmonks, and mailing lists, etc etc.

And yes, the open and close are bumpers, to provide a continuity to the show about show-related issues as opposed to content-related issues. What specifically put you off the most?

Posted by Randal L. Schwartz on September 08, 2008 at 06:31 AM PDT #

"The conversation - discussing Sun's open source strategy - is one I have had so many times over the last few months that I wonder if it would be worth writing a book."

Oooh yes. I was thinking exactly the same thing during the interview! The issues you describe are complex, and you have access to many experiences and learnings that seem to create a compelling argument for the rationale of "free" software as an inevitable ultimate position, not just an alternative. As someone who has had to straddle the practical line between what the client wants me to do, and what I would do given my "druthers", I can see what the ultimate cost has been.

If nothing else, please write up more things and point to them. Maybe this blog deserves re-reading for such gems?

Posted by Randal L. Schwartz on September 08, 2008 at 06:40 AM PDT #

I hope you don't mind that I linked to your interview from Jon's blog comments. I thought it was very interesting and hope others listen in.

Here's my issue with Sun's open source. Where do you sell related services, and how would I go about buying them? I checked the www.sun.com site - and there's no link to s/w support/service options. The closest is "Services > Service Plans" but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a list that includes MySQL, ZFS, NetBeans, OpenSolaris, etc - and with a wide spectrum of support plans. The MySQL web site is the closest to what I mean - but why not do the same for all your other FOSS?

A few years ago I bought RedHat Linux 4 subscriptions for my servers and it was a breeze. I paid RedHat and they kept me up-to-date (up2date). If Sun could create a similar subscription system for its FOSS then it would answer the earlier comment about "where's the profit?". But from what I see, the only thing for sale on the web site is hardware, and the software doesn't "dial home" and invite you to subscribe to regular fixes and upgrades.

To summarize - make a Sun "up2date" service and charge for it! Good luck, and thanks for the interview.

Posted by Kevin Hutchinson on September 08, 2008 at 11:15 AM PDT #

"I'd be interested in your thoughts as to whether a book about the third wave of open source and its impact on the software business would be worthwhile. Let me know, by comment or e-mail."

Yes! This was the part of the conversation that appealed to me personally the most. I think the societal dimension och transparency, secrecy and privacy are so under-understood and under-debated. And soo much stupid legislation is proposed and voted for because of lack of understanding of these issues.

We've read Brin's "the Transparent Society", and Solove's "The future of reputation". Would love to hear of You know of other pertinent readning or where this much needed discussion might take place already?

I run a small Swedish thinktank called "Teldok 2.0" and we have small funds (from the ".se"-registry-monopoly) to arrange public hearings on issues relating to (broadly) "Economy, technology and policy". Would you possibly be interested in showing up in Stockholm to talk on the privacy, secrecy, transparency dimension as you view it?

Thanks, loved your conversation with Randall and Leo. Their questions and analogies helped me get "into" your thinking.

/peter

Posted by Peter Nõu on September 08, 2008 at 07:46 PM PDT #

@Peter: Well, of course, there's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" :-)

I'd love to explore working with "Teldok 2.0" - please can you send me an e-mail (simon.phipps at sun.com) as the e-mail you supplied bounced.

@Kevin: Sun actually has a whole range of subscription offerings, but they aren't correctly focussed on the web pages, I agree. You'll see much more of this from Sun over the coming year.

@Randall: I'm gradually working through all those themes in essays here. Any publisher suggestions?

Posted by Simon Phipps on September 08, 2008 at 08:06 PM PDT #

I would love to read a book on your views, especially those that intersect with the more "philosophical" and "social" aspects of FLOSS, information society, and your vision of a third wave. I think the details and subtleties of your view need to be fleshed out---they seem genuinely novel and surely need a long format to explore. The trick, of course, is expounding exactly what and why this transition to privacy and transparency is what is it. I think if the subject was to be given its full justice you would have to move beyond business models and technology trends, since these are surely (in my opinion) epiphenomena of deeper social reality. I'm terribly excited to hear more about your views.

Posted by Quinn on September 13, 2008 at 02:24 PM PDT #

I really enjoyed the show, I'm a long time listener to Leo's podcasts, including FLOSS weekly, and it often surprises me how inspirational it can be. This episode was no exception, it resonated a lot with me, especially the part where you explained Suns world view, going from secrecy to transparency with privacy.
In my daily work, I work for a non-profit research organization that helps the Belgian technological industry and as such, we on one hand participate in large projects, often with European research and industrial partners. Within these consortia, it is all about finding the right balance between what to share, what not, who to share it with, etc. Your views about secrecy vs. transparency and privacy therefor resonated that much, because it is a thing my group is struggling with, and doing research with (although we do not call it like that) If you would consider writing a book about this, I'm definitely going to read this with great interest!
Thanks for sharing!
Nick.

Posted by Nick on September 14, 2008 at 06:27 PM PDT #

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